Readers, the results of this week's local by-elections were as follows:
Durham UA, Dawdon: Labour 693 (52.3%, +4.8%), Seaham Community 633 (47.7%, +13.4%).
Eastleigh BC, Hedge End Grange Park: Liberal Democrats 668 (56.5%, +15.5%), Conservative 316 (26.7%, -10.9%), Labour 144 (12.2%, +0.9%), Green 41 (3.5%), UKIP 14 (1.2%, -9.0%). All changes are since 2015.
Waltham Forest LBC, William Morris: Labour 1,923 (68.4%, +10.2%), Green 524 (18.6%, +1.0%), Conservative 365 (13.0%, +6.6%).
West Lancashire BC, Derby: Our West Lancashire 705 (42.4%, +28.5%), Labour 596 (35.8%, +0.4%), Conservative 362 (21.8%, -10.0%). Our West Lancashire gain from Labour; all changes are since 2015.
The trend towards increasing support for local groups, many of which lean towards moderate conservatism in practice, continues with the local group Our West Lancashire's win of the Derby by-election and with the Seaham Community group only missing out on winning Dawdon (the largest community of which is actually Seaham) by 60 votes. Although this trend was generally not reflected at the last general election except in the Ashfield constituency, it continues to grow due to dissatisfaction of partisan politics, and this is especially true in rural councils. Before the major changes affected by the Local Government Act 1972, a majority of rural district councils were nonpartisan and a majority parish councillors (in villages and hamlets) do not use a party label when standing for election. This can also be indirectly useful to the Green Party when they campaign in rural areas or small towns, as recent successes in such towns as Frome demonstrate.
The Waltham Forest result is attributable to the absence of Liberal Democrat, UKIP, and TUSC candidates which stood there in 2014 and shared 19.5% of the vote between them. Labour benefitted most but so did the Greens and Conservatives, although as this is a very safe Labour ward anyway the effects were not significant. Eastleigh's result was as expected, for the Liberal Democrats are strong throughout the majority of Eastleigh Borough, although the Greens beating UKIP in what is one of the weakest areas for the Green Party in South East England is notable nevertheless.