Conservatives gain council seat from Labour in by-election victory

Labour vote share down across all three wards contested in council by-elections, reports James Cracknell and Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The three Enfield by-election winners, from left; Andrew Thorp, the Conservative victor in Chase ward; Chinelo Anyanwu, the Labour winner in Jubilee; and Ayten Guzel, the new Labour councillor in Southbury
The three Enfield by-election winners, from left; Andrew Thorp, the Conservative victor in Chase ward; Chinelo Anyanwu, the Labour winner in Jubilee; and Ayten Guzel, the new Labour councillor in Southbury

The Conservatives have gained a seat on Enfield Council after the party won one of the three by-elections in a previously Labour-held ward.

Andrew Thorp won convincingly in Chase, overturning a 60-vote margin of defeat for the Tories in the 2018 election to come through and win by a 7.5% margin over Labour this time around.

The ward was one of two – together with Jubilee – where a vacancy had arisen because of the resignations of Labour councillors, while a third by-election was held in Southbury following the death of long-time Labour member Chris Bond last year.

In both Southbury and Jubilee, new Labour councillors were elected, but the party’s share of the vote was down significantly on its 2018 share. Overall across the three wards, Labour’s vote fell by 13.6%.

While all the opposition parties made gains of some sort in their vote share across the three by-elections, the biggest swing overall was from Labour to the Green Party. The Greens averaged gains of 5.3%, with the Conservatives up 4.5% on average, followed by the Lib Dems increasing their overall share by 2%.

Cllr Thorp, talking to the Dispatch shortly after his victory in Chase ward, said: “It was a closely-fought election campaign and I owe a lot to my wonderful team in Enfield Conservatives. It has been a massive team effort.

“Our main campaign points were about protecting Whitewebbs Park Golf Course, which Labour recently closed, and also cleaning up Chase ward and tackling fly-tipping.”

The controversy over Whitewebbs Park was expected to be a big factor for Chase ward voters, but the swing from Labour to Conservative in Chase was actually less than it was in Southbury and Jubilee wards, suggesting there were other reasons behind the move away from Labour for Enfield voters.

Cllr Thorp added: “I think it reflects that people in Enfield want to be listened to and want the council to act on what they say. It is really important that we listen to people and that will set us in good stead.

“We have only got a year until the next election so I have got a year to prove myself to the voters. I am a local chap and for me it’s all about making Enfield a better place to live.”

Reacting to the three by-election results, council leader Nesil Caliskan said: “It is disappointing when we don’t win a seat. We fought for every vote. But, in reality, against a pretty stark swing against Labour nationally, I am really proud of our honest campaign in Enfield from three exceptionally brilliant female candidates.”

Cllr Caliskan said that in marginal seats such as Chase, the national swing against Labour coupled with more people voting for minority opposition parties had “let the Tories in through the back door”.

Conservative leader Joanne Laban had a different interpretation of the result and said: “The people of Chase ward have spoken. They are unhappy with the Labour administration and they want to be listened to, especially over Whitewebbs and the state of our environment. I am ecstatically happy with the win in Chase.”

In Southbury, despite the party’s vote share falling by 18.9%, Labour candidate Ayten Guzel still ran out a comfortable winner ahead of Tory Patrick Drysdale. She said in her victory speech: “The Southbury ward by-election was called because of the sad passing of Chris Bond, who served as a councillor in Enfield for over three decades. He was deeply loved and respected by many and I pay tribute to Chris for his service.

“I am delighted and honoured to have been elected as the new councillor for Southbury ward. Thank you to the many Labour activities who campaign and most importantly thank you Southbury residents who voted for me.”

In Jubilee ward, Labour were again victorious, with their candidate Chinelo Anyanwu cruising to victory over Conservative candidate Benny Neza. Speaking after the result was announced, Cllr Anyanwu said: “My reason for being here today is because I am passionate about our community. Enfield is a wonderful place.

“I grew up in the ward, and I am back now to give to the community that has given me so much. It is going to be a wonderful time.”

In the London Assembly vote for the Enfield and Haringey constituency, Joanne McCartney was returned to City Hall with a vote share of 48.3%, down by 5.7% from her previous win in 2016. Conservative Lee David-Sanders, a Highlands ward councillor, came in second with 25.8% of the vote share, while the Green Party’s candidate Jarelle Francis was third with 13%.

Joanne, in her victory speech, said: “I want to thank the voters of Enfield and Haringey for putting their trust in me again and I will work hard for you every day.

“Labour campaigned to make our city better, to make it greener, fairer and safer, and we meant it. The government talks about levelling up but that seems to be code for an anti-London agenda – London needs levelling up as well.”

FULL RESULTS

Chase by-election (Enfield Council)

Andrew Thorp (Conservative) = 2,138 (44%)
Chris James (Labour) = 1,775 (36.5%)
Guy Russo (Liberal Democrats) = 517 (10.6%)
Lynne Davies (Green) = 374 (7.7%)
Mirjana Glavardanov (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) = 58 (1.2%)

Total votes = 4,862 (turnout 48.7%)

Southbury by-election (Enfield Council)

Ayten Guzel (Labour) = 1,961 (46.6%)
Patrick Drysdale (Conservative) = 1,380 (32.8%)
Luke Balnave (Green) = 470 (11.1%)
Luke Cummings (Liberal Democrats) = 246 (5.8%)
John Dolan (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) = 82 (1.9%)
Hughi Rose (We Matter Party) = 37 (0.9%)
Jheni Morri (TTIP) = 36 (0.9%)

Total votes = 4,212 (turnout 41.8%)

Jubilee by-election (Enfield Council)

Chinelo Anyanwu (Labour) = 2,170 (55.7%)
Benny Neza (Conservative) = 1,070 (27.5%)
Bill Linton (Green) = 321 (8.2%)
Iman Saadoune (Lib Dem) = 171 (4.4%)
Clive Morrison (TTIP) = 100 (2.6%)
Lewis Peacock (TUSC) = 63 (1.6%)

Total votes = 3,895 (turnout 41.2%)

Enfield and Haringey (London Assembly)

Joanne McCartney (Labour) = 81,620 (48.3%)
Lee David-Sanders (Conservative) = 43,626 (25.8%)
Jarelle Francis (Green) = 21,921 (13%)
Dawn Barnes (Lib Dem) = 17,363 (10.3%)
Deborah Cairns (Reform UK) = 3,284 (1.9%)
Pamela Holmes (independent) = 1,020 (0.6%)

Total votes = 168,834 (turnout 42%)