The Liberal Democrats had the honours of the byelections held on 29 January, winning two seats from Labour. In Valentines ward of Redbridge borough council, the party went from fourth to first place with a 182 vote majority, although the election appeared to have been fought largely on the issue of the Israeli Defence Force action in Gaza. The other gain was a less impressive 24-vote win in Fenham ward of Newcastle-upon-Tyne city council, a ward which voted Liberal Democrat by over 300 votes in May 2008 (the incumbent Labour councillor had won in 2007).
The week has seen several councillors move political groups. Aberdeenshire council‘s ruling coalition is now reliant on the Provost’s casting vote after three Liberal Democrat councillors resigned from their group and formed a separate ‘Democratic Independent’ group together with Debra Storr, who had left a few months earlier. The four were all opposed to Donald Trump’s golf resort planning application. The three defectees are Paul Johnston (Mid Formartine ward), Martin Ford (East Garioch ward), and Sam Coull (Peterhead South and Cruden ward).