Bottisham (Con defence) on East Cambridgeshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 36, Liberal Democrats 2, Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 33)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,100, 1,002 (52%)
Liberal Democrats 678, 634 (32%)
Labour 347, 339 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Steven Aronson (Lib Dem), Daniel Divine (UKIP), Steven O’Dell (Lab), Alan Sharp (Con)
East Cambridgeshire is the essence of what has been happening to the Liberal Democrats since 2003 (their high water mark in local elections). At those elections, the Liberal Democrats polled 27% in the national projected vote share (tying with their performances in 1994 and 1987) and in those local elections they won 3,577 seats and controlled or had a hand in controlling 53 councils (including East Cambridgeshire where they had 18 councillors to the Conservatives 15 and the Independents 6), however just four years later and it was all reversed. Although the Liberal Democrat share in the national projected vote only fell by 3%, the Conservative share rose by 5% and that 4% swing was enough to cause the Conservatives to gain overall control in East Cambridgeshire and then the rot really started. A 3% swing from Lib Dem to Con saw the Conservative majority on the council increase to 11 and another 2% swing in 2015 saw the majority rocket up to 33 (on a swing of 5% overall since 2003). Since the general election though, the Liberal Democrats have started to recover some of their lustre but I think a 10% swing since May is asking just a little too much.
Measham South (Lab defence) on North West Leicestershire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Labour 10, Independents 2, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 12)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Labour 654 (55%), Conservative 533 (45%)
Candidates duly nominated: Annette Bridges (Con), Martin Green (UKIP), Sean Sheahan (Lab)
North West Leicestershire has always been a right royal battleground. Labour had a majority of 2 in 2003, which became a Conservative majority of 16 in 2007, then a Conservative majority of 4 in 2011 and then a majority of 12 in 2015, so when you have a seat that only requires a 5% swing for the Conservatives to gain it, you can imagine just how much chomping at the bit is going on in a constituency that has been swinging away from Labour almost since it went Labour in 1997. However, there is a complication this time around and that is UKIP. They will clearly poll very well (as they do in wards they did not contest last time) but who will their presence hurt the most? If it’s the Conservatives then Labour are home and dry, if it’s Labour then that gain becomes all the more likely.
Hexham West (Con defence) on Northumberland
Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 32, Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 3 (No Overall Majority, Labour short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 848 (48%), Liberal Democrat 540 (31%), Labour 261 (15%), United Kingdom Independence Party 105 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Tom Gillanders (Con), Derek Kennedy (Non Party Independent), Anne Pickering (Ind), Nuala Rose (Lab), Lee Williscroft-Ferris (Green)
Oswestry South (Con defence) on Shropshire
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 48, Liberal Democrats 12, Labour 9, Independent 1, Independent Community and Health Concern / National Health Action 1 (Conservative majority of 22)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 488 (46%), Green Party 337 (32%), United Kingdom Independence Party 175 (16%), Liberal Democrat 62 (6%)
Candidates duly nominated: Carl Hopley (Lab), Duncan Kerr (Green), Christopher Schofield (Con), Amanda Woof (Lib Dem)
Both Northumberland and Shropshire have a lot in common. They are very councils with very large land areas (Shropshire has a land area of 3,487 square kilometres and Northumberland 5,013 square kilometres), both had at one point Liberal Democrats in a position of power (in 2008 the Liberal Democrats were the largest party on Northumberland and in 2005, the Liberal Democrats were the offical opposition on Shropshire) and both councils have a claim to be “a town and not much else” (with Morpeth being the county town in Northumberland and Shrewsbury being the county town in Shropshire), so with so many similarities it is amazing how divergent the two councils are nowadays, with Labour in minority control in Northumberland and the Conservatives in majority control of Shropshire and with the Liberal Democrats in oppsition to the Conservatives in Hexham West and the Greens in opposition to the Conservatives in Oswestry South. We’ve only had one Green gain since the general election in Dorset, so could we have a second tonight or could we have undoubted evidence of a Lib Dem fightback with three Lib Dems gains from three Lib Dem candidates?