Liberals were involved in both byelections which changed hands on Thursday 8 October. Elissa Robinson was elected as a Liberal Democrat in Penrith West ward of Eden district council, taking the seat previously held by Independent council leader Colin Nineham before his sudden resignation. However on Ryedale district council, the Liberal Party’s Sue Cowan won the Pickering East seat which was previously held by the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Party is a 1988 refoundation of the original party of that name, formed by those who opposed the merger with the Social Democrats.
The people of Golders Green ward learned last week that their councillor Chris Harris was on ‘an extended holiday’ in Australasia. Cllr Harris had been elected as a Conservative; when his situation was given publicity, Barnet borough council Conservative leader removed the whip from him, so that he now sits as an Independent.
An even more bizarre set of circumstances in Stoke has led to a party shift. When a caller to Cheshire West and Chester council claiming to be from BBC Radio Stoke gave a bogus name, the phone number traced to Stoke city council where Cheshire West’s chief executive Steve Robinson had previously worked. After an investigation, Labour group leader Mike Barnes (Longton South ward) was suspended from holding office in the party in connection with the incident. Local news website Pits’n’Pots reported that Barnes had admitted impersonating one of their reporters. On Thursday, Barnes resigned from the Labour Party to sit as ‘non-aligned’ on the fragmented Stoke city council.