The 2017 ‘Local Government Elections’ : Bridgwater Branch Report

Thursday, 15 June 2017Leave a reply
Bridgwater Branch discusses the Local Government election campaigns

The Bridgwater Branch Labour Party was involved in 2 election campaigns during 2017 and due to 2 by elections we were fighting seats on all 4 authorities -Town, District, County, National.

On 14 June 2017 Bridgwater Branch Labour Party had a massively attended meeting to discuss the  campaign along with that of the General Election (reported here).

Below are the background papers. The secretary will produce a report within the minutes at some point

On Town and District  (Eastover ward) we held the 2 seats we were defending. These were our own seats and the by election came about due to one of our councillors  (Moira Brown) standing down.

Leigh Redman, County Labour Leader, at the Sedgemoor Count

On County Council we fought all 7 wards within the Branch area. Our tactic was to defend the 2 seats we held (Bridgwater North and South) and to aim to make gains in seats we had held at one time but where we had come 3rd to UKIP in at the 2013 elections (Bridgwater West and East). We fought a campaign in North Petherton largely targeted to build a Labour presence in the Stockmoor area. We fought no campaign at all in Huntspill and Cannington but stood paper candidates.

The Campaign;-

UKIP did not stand in any of the 7 seats giving us hope of gaining the 2 Bridgwater ones.

The Greens, who usually have an arrangement with us not to stand in local elections, stood a single paper candidate-possibly accidentally -in North ward

The LibDems concentrated all their efforts on North Petherton -which they had come close to in 2012 (by 30 votes) and as a result took the seat

A Tory ‘Independent’– David ‘Blue Owl’ Preece stood in North ward + both town and district by elections having been rejected by the Tories as their candidate. As it happens the Labour victory margin was roughly the size of Preece’s spoiler vote.

Tony Heywood, Bridgwater’s new Labour Town Councillor for Eastover

A campaign forum was organised to run the elections and 2 leaflets were produced – a candidates personal leaflet (in 5 wards) & an ‘all areas’ Bridgwater Rose newspaper.

There was a very small list of Labour members offering themselves as candidates. In fact 8 candidates for the 7 seats. There was also a very poorly attended selection meeting to choose candidates with minimal member/resident presence so that the Exec had to supplement the panel to choose candidates despite numerous circulars to members appealing for candidates to come forward.

For the Eastover town and district selections there was a wider selection on offer but the exec overruled 2 candidates due to length of membership and 1 dropped out leaving just 1 remaining candidate for each seat who were therefore selected without a contest.

Chelsea Chadwick, Labour’s new district councillor for Eastover

The Result;-

Eastover Town;- This was won by Labour’s Tony Heywood with a reduced majority

Eastover District:- This was won by Labour’s Chelsea Chadwick with a reduced majority

Somerset County;- Labour held 2 seats Leigh Redman (South) with a slightly reduced majority and Dave Loveridge (North) with a greatly reduced majority and came second in 2 West (Tony Heywood) and East (Diogo Rodrigues) both with increased Labour votes but larger Tory majorities.

Dave Loveridge winning the Bridgwater North & Central Seat for Labour

The Labour vote was squeezed in North Petherton with a swing to the Lib Dems who won whilst we maintained a respectable presence in Huntspill and Cannington with absolutely no campaigning

Observations;-

For Labour the victory was holding all 4 seats in the face of a major Tory onslaught that saw them retaining County.

Town, District and County statistics

Ward Previous 2017 comment
Eastover (Town) Con 580

Lab 715

Con 251

Lab 282

Lib 140

Ind 62

Lab Hold with majority of 31 over Con
Eastover (District) Con 514

Lab 648

Lib 240

 

Con 256

Lab 287

Lib 132

Ind 60

 

Lab Hold with majority of  31 over Con
County 2013 2017
Bridgwater East & Bawdrip

 

Con 717

Lab 493

Lib 113

UKIP 610

(24% turnout)

Con 1,337

Lab 662

Lib 425

 

(28% turnout)

Con hold +675 majority over Lab
Bridgwater North & Central

 

Con 246

Lab 700

Lib 149

 

 

(16% turnout)

Con 510

Green 56

Lab 593

Lib 196

Ind 81

(21% turnout)

Lab hold with +81 majority over Con
Bridgwater South

 

Con 580

Lab 974

 

(20% turnout)

Con 727

Lib 191

Lab 954

(24% turnout)

Lab hold with +227 majority over Con
Bridgwater West

 

Con 715

Lab 463

Lib 134

UKIP 541

(24% turnout)

Con 1,289

Lab 606

Lib 288

 

(28% turnout)

Con hold with 683 majority over Lab
Cannington

 

Con 1,453

Lib 480

Lab 456

(33% turnout)

Con 1,737

Lib 620

Lab 374

(37% turnout)

Con hold with 1117 majority over Lib
Huntspill

 

Lab 325

Lib 274

Con 1,100

UKIP 829

(35% turnout)

Lab 337

Lib 513

Con 1,810

(36% turnout)

Con hold with1297 majority over Lib
North Petherton

 

Con 667

Lab 207

Lib 647

UKIP 442

(32% turnout)

Con 1,187

Lab 178

Lib 1,435

 

(41% turnout)

Lib Dem GAIN with 248 majority over Con

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