All three byelections on 22 January were retained by the party that previously held them, but not without some drama and tension: at Bexley borough council, the byelection in East Wickham ward went to two recounts before the Conservative candidate was declared the winner with a majority of 8 votes over the British National Party candidate. With both Labour and the Liberal Democrats following, the Conservatives managed to win with only 26.8% of the total vote.
On Wednesday evening the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups on Kirklees borough council in West Yorkshire came together to vote out the minority Conservative administration, and take control as a ‘partnership administration’ (Labour leader Mehboob Khan will be the council leader). The Liberal Democrats had previously not voted against the Conservatives, but a row over school reorganization saw them lose confidence.
On Thursday the ruling coalition on Stoke-on-Trent city council, comprising Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, could only manage a tie on a vote to move to all-out elections in the city; the law requires a two-thirds majority, and so Stoke council will continue to be elected by thirds. The next elections are in 2010, although the directly-elected Mayor will go out of office on 8 June and the existing council will have to elect a leadership and cabinet.