One week on – Local Elections Results and analysis – 2024

Bristol City Council

Bristol’s Green Belt expands with a bad night for Labour

The momentum created by the Green Party in the 2021 Bristol elections continued in 2024 with impressive results that left them on the cusp of outright control. The test for the Greens was whether the ‘Green Belt’ of seats spanning the city’s inner urban core could expand, touching areas that had never voted for the party before.

The answer? Yes, it did with an eastern sprawl into St George West and St George Central—the former seat of Nicola Beech, previous Cabinet Member for Planning and secured an unexpected victory in Knowle, unseating former Lib-Dem group leader Gary Hopkins.

For Labour, this result was close to disastrous, as big gains were achieved nationwide. Silver linings were in short supply, but Labour routed the Tories in Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston, retained their single seat in Bedminster (unexpectedly), and, for the first time in the 21st century, won one seat in Tory Bishopsworth.

However, any ambition the party had of compensating for Green losses in long-standing Tory suburbs, like Henbury and Stockwood, turned to dust.

Former Bristol MP Stephen Williams dramatically returned to public office as one of three new Lib-Dem councillors comfortably winning in Westbury-On-Trym and Henleaze. The trio’s scalps included long- standing Tory councillor Geoff Gollop whose group is now roughly the size it was in 1997 – the scene of Tony Blair’s election landslide.

What more do the Greens need to win outright control next time? Simple. Move into Bristol’s north and south suburbs. For Labour, planning a fightback is more complex. Holding the Mayoralty for eight years with all its ups and downs may be part of the disappointment.

But cue head-scratching asking, ‘Just how did Labour’s unassailable support in Bristol’s four parliamentary constituencies get converted into nearly a Green council during a (unpopular) Tory government?’

Dorset Council

Political Earthquake in Dorset: Lib Dems Shake Up Tory Stronghold

As the votes were tallied in Dorset on Friday evening, the political landscape underwent a profound transformation, akin to an earthquake reshaping what was once solidly Conservative terrain. Lib Dem leader Councillor Nick Ireland could hardly contain his satisfaction as his party not only rattled the established order but also claimed outright control of the council.

The Lib Dems, traditionally confined to urban strongholds like Dorchester, Sherborne, and Wimborne Minster, rumbled through the rural expanses of Tory Dorset, particularly in the west. Here, the tremors were felt most acutely as ward after ward, previously secure under Conservative majorities like that in Eggardon, shifted dramatically to the Lib Dems.

While some areas in North and Central Dorset managed to withstand the full force of this political upheaval, providing some stability for the Conservatives, these were mere aftershocks compared to the upheaval elsewhere. By the night’s close, the Tories found little reason for celebration, facing a landscape dramatically altered by tectonic political shifts.

This upheaval signals instability to Conservative MPs such as Chris Loder of West Dorset and Richard Drax of South Dorset, who will be eyeing the rumbling ground with trepidation. With each constituency showing robust Conservative majorities on paper, the scale of these council losses could forecast more tremors to come.

Amidst this shifting ground, the Lib Dems capitalized masterfully on tactical voting. As Labour, Greens, and Independents held their ground, a resonant “get the Conservatives out” message reverberated across Dorset, echoing opposition forces’ strategic focus and unity. This concerted effort left a lasting impression, suggesting that Tory voters who delivered a proverbial bloody nose to their party, along with those who abstained, might still realign their loyalties come the General Election.

In Dorset, the political upheaval has redrawn boundaries and expectations, leaving traditional power structures in disarray and heralding a new era of Lib Dem control.

Exeter City Council

Labour dominates the wilds of Exeter politics once again

As Exeter embarks upon the Bank Holiday Weekend, a gentle stir can be felt in the corridors of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, where Gerald the Giraffe, the venerable stuffed exhibit, presides.

Most years, the city commemorates the beast, who has been ‘sticking his neck out’ since 1920. Similarly, in most years, the Exeter City Council elections typically unfold with results sparing the need for predictions that mirror Gerald’s pose.

Labour, like an immovable elephant, reaffirmed its might in Exeter’s political landscape. Despite watching from afar the Green Party’s recent gains in Bristol, Labour maintained its stronghold. The Greens, resembling sprightly squirrels, made small gains in the central ward of Newtown & St Leonards but must venture deeper into suburban territories to become a significant force.

The Liberal Democrats, much like cautious foxes, stayed within their familiar territory of Duryard & St James gaining a councillor here but failed to expand their influence elsewhere. Their presence, though consistent, lacked the breadth needed to unsettle the larger political beasts.

The Conservative Party, almost as rare as a woolly mammoth, continues its retreat. Once formidable, they are now reduced to echoes of the past, losing Topsham to Labour’s advance. An Independent, riding the wave of resentment over controversial traffic policies, captured Heavitree. This issue nearly cost Labour another seat in Mincinglake and Whipton, reminding even the dominant that challenges can arise.In this museum of political wildlife, Labour remains the dominant force, like Gerald the Giraffe standing tall among the exhibits.

While smaller parties add diversity, none have yet mustered the strength to seriously challenge the established order. For now, Labour can graze peacefully, all but guaranteed dominance at the local and parliamentary levels in the city. But the landscape of Exeter politics could change – assume a change of Government in 2024, and it might be Labour retreating over a period of years as national incumbency progresses the circle of (political) life.

Plymouth City Council

Tory punishment continues as Labour sweeps to victory

As the sun rose over Home Park, the stronghold of Plymouth Argyle FC, the Green Army gears up for a pivotal match against their relegation fight on Saturday versus Hull City. Meanwhile, in the city’s political game, the Labour team, managed by Cllr Tudor Evans since 1998, experienced no such final-day nerves. Their electoral gameplan was executed with precision, capturing traditionally strong Tory opposition areas like the suburban Plymstock Radford.

Labour’s significant victory over the Conservatives represents the equivalent of a 5-0 trouncing. The Conservatives, once a formidable side, saw their numbers more than halved. Their sole consolation was a narrow win in Eggbuckland, a match clinched by just 16 votes—barely keeping hope alive amid a series of tough defeats.

The Conservatives didn’t just lose to Labour; they also lost ground to Independent challengers in a widespread concession of voter possession in areas like Plympton St Mary and Plympton Erle.

While the gap between Labour and the Tories is significant, Cllr Tudor Evans is unlikely to celebrate prematurely. He’s aware of the potential pitfalls that come with unchecked success and a large team of players (or Councillors) to manage. He’ll be determined to avoid the internal conflicts that once plagued his Conservative counterparts.

As this electoral season draws to a close, the upcoming General Election looms like a decisive final game for the Conservatives, with well-known MP Johnny Mercer defending his position in the marginal Plymouth Moor View. Given the evening’s results, it’s akin to a team needing a miracle to escape relegation.

The city watches intently. Will the Green Army overcome their relegation threat? Can the Labour team maintain its cohesion and dominance? The immediate future holds these answers, but today, Labour’s victory is theirs to savour, while the Conservatives must regroup and rejuvenate, hoping to alter their form at the General Election.

Stroud District Council

Green Surge and Tory Ebb: Stroud’s Rising Tide of Change

As the River Severn courses through Gloucestershire, its presence subtly reshaping the landscape over time, so has Stroud’s political terrain experienced a significant transformation. The once dominant Conservative wave has receded dramatically, leaving them with only a few seats and marking a stark reversal from their position as the largest group on the council in 2021.

The Green Party, thriving like the species at the local attraction of Slimbridge Wetlands, has seen a steady rise in its numbers. This election cycle has gradually increased the number of Green councillors from previous years into a significant flood, overtaking territories traditionally held by the Conservatives. With gains stretching from urban centres in east Stroud to more rural wards like Painswick and Upton, the Green influence now permeates nearly every corner of the district.

Navigating internal conflicts that had previously diminished their council presence, Labour managed a commendable recovery. This resurgence is highlighted by the increased number of seats, the return of former MP David Drew in Stroud Central, and significant wins in areas like Cam East and Stonehouse. These wards, often seen as bellwethers for national trends, suggest Labour is steadily moving forward with an eye toward reclaiming the Stroud parliamentary constituency.

For the Tories, the landscape has shifted under their feet like a fast, incoming high tide. The retirement of key figures like Stephen Davies and the close calls in areas such as Berkeley, where they narrowly secured the third seat by a mere five votes, underscore a retreat into their most steadfast areas.

As the Greens look to extend their roots beyond Stroud (and Forest of Dean), they face the challenge of maintaining their regional momentum. Will they be able to replicate their success in upcoming County Council elections and across other districts along the M5 corridor? Just as migratory birds at Slimbridge explore new habitats, the Greens are poised to test their appeal in new territories.

Swindon Borough Council

Labour consolidates control of urban Swindon as Tory collapse continues

In Swindon, the echoes of its historic railway industry resounded through this year’s council elections, with Labour Council Leader Jim Robbins at the helm like a seasoned train conductor. Under his leadership, Labour charged down the tracks, gaining eight seats and seizing territories long-held by the Conservatives, including pivotal stations like Haydon Wick, Shaw, and Priory Vale.

The day could have been more dismal for the Conservatives, who narrowly clung to the rails in their stronghold wards such as Covingham and Dorcan by a slim margin of less than 100 votes. The Liberal Democrats, on a different track, found themselves outpaced in Wroughton and Wichelstowe, where the Tories managed one of their few robust performances of the day.

While Cllr Robbins might feel comfortably in control of the council, there’s a lingering question as to why Labour didn’t surpass their previous gains from 2023, especially given more favourable national polls. Certain areas like St Andrews remained stubbornly blue, putting a slight brake on Labour’s victory lap, with close calls in St Margaret and

South Marston also tempering celebrations. The resilient campaign engine built by Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson in North Swindon might explain some of the Tories’ tenacity. His efforts over the years have laid down tracks that are tough for Labour to dismantle.

However, based on today’s results, it’s clear that more than just a well- organised campaign and hard work will be necessary for the Conservatives to keep their remaining seats in Swindon on track and derail a potential Keir Starmer-led government.

In this whirlwind of local elections, each council’s political landscape has undergone significant shifts, reflecting the dynamic nature of democracy and the evolving priorities of constituents. From seismic victories to strategic advancements, the results reveal not just the outcomes of individual races but also the broader currents shaping our political future. As parties regroup, strategise, and adapt to these changing tides, the stage is set for continued engagement and transformation in the years ahead. For more insight and how we can assist you with your projects and delivering your messages to local politicians, get in touch with here:

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