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Council by-election results hold little cheer for Tories ahead of conference

The Conservatives successfully defended five council seats, but lost one to Labour in the latest polls.

Conservative activists heading for their party conference in Manchester starting on Sunday will not be able to draw much comfort from local by-election results since the snap general election.

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The net change in council seats since the 2017 general election (PA Graphics)

They successfully defended five council seats, but lost one to Labour in the latest polls.

Tories have fallen behind Labour overall in the local by-elections tally since Theresa May went to the country in June.

Conservatives have gained six council seats but lost 13 while holding 21. Labour has gained 12 and lost three while holding 19.

Labour took one seat from Conservative and one from independent in the latest local contests.

The Labour victory over the Tories came in the Thetford Priory ward of Breckland Council in a by-election prompted by the resignation of a Conservative councillor.

Voting was: Lab 503, C 257, Ukip 112. Turnout was 17.4%.

Labour’s second gain came in a by-election in the Halton with Aughton ward of Lancaster City Council following the resignation of an independent councillor.

Voting was: Lab 247, Green 245, C 236, LD 174. Turnout was relatively high for a council by-election at 43%.

Labour held four seats at: Barnsley (Kingstone ward), Durham (Trimdon & Thornley), Harlow (Toddbrook), and Northampton (Eastfield).

The five council seats held by Conservatives were at: East Staffordshire (Stretton), Harrogate (Washburn), Northampton (Nene Valley), and St Edmundsbury (two wards: Chedburgh and Hundon).

Meanwhile, in the sole council by-election taking place in Scotland this time, Liberal Democrats suffered a setback when they lost a seat on Highland Council to an independent candidate.

First-preference voting in the poll in the Tain & Easter Ross ward using the single transferable vote (STV) system was: Ind Rhind 1,266, SNP 612, LD 372, C 233, Ind Holdsworth 68, Libertarian 13. Turnout was 36.1%.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Lib Dem Jamie Stone following his election as MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross at the general election.

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