Labour edge controversial South ward by-election with 3 percent swing

Dayley Lawrence (2nd from right), the victorious Labour candidate, with supporters following announcement of the result.

The Labour Party has won a second seat on Bradley Stoke Town Council in a controversial by-election that is likely to have cost ratepayers upwards of £8,000 to stage.

The seat, one of seven representing the South ward on the 15-seat town council, became vacant on the sad passing of mayor Michael Hill (Conservative) in November last year.

The by-election took place because ten or more electors called for one, using a right enshrined in the Local Government Act 1972, after the vacancy was advertised in late December 2021.

Taking place on Thursday 3rd March, the by-election saw 1,077 ballot papers issued out of a total electorate of 7,056, a turnout of just 15.3 percent. However, fewer than half of the votes were cast on the day at a polling station as there were 543 postal votes.

Voting took place at four polling stations, with none of them seeing more than 200 voters over the 15 hours that they were open and one, at the Jubilee Centre, being attended by just 28 people.

Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

The poll was a two-way contest between local mum and NHS employee Kelly Cole (Conservative) and local postman Dayley Lawrence (Labour). It was won by the Labour candidate with a margin of just ten votes. This represents a swing of 3 percent to Labour compared to the May 2021 by-election in the same ward, when Mr Lawrence also stood but lost out to the Conservative’s Edward He.

Poll result

  • Kelly Cole (Conservative) 530
  • Dayley Lawrence (Labour) 540 ELECTED

The winning candidate, who is also a town councillor in Patchway, said:

“Thank you very much to the residents of Bradley Stoke South Ward for electing me as their new town councillor.”

“It’s a huge privilege, an honour and a great responsibility to take on this job and I will do it with everything I have to the best of my ability for my community.”

“I want to give Bradley Stoke South a compassionate councillor who is there for you and listens to your needs.”

“I’d like to thank Kelly Cole, for the very civilised campaign she ran.“

“I look forward to beginning my role and bringing my positive energy to Bradley Stoke Town Council.”

Cllr Lawrence will serve on the council for just 14 months, as the next regular four-yearly full election for the town council is due to take place in May 2023.



Some members of the Conservative group on the council criticised the Labour Party for (allegedly) calling a by-election, claiming that the “accepted practice” when a serving councillor dies is for the vacancy to be filled by co-option (this is when the remaining councillors chose a replacement themselves). The minutes of a council meeting held on 19th January 2022 record:

“Cllr Tony Griffiths asked for it to be minuted that he and other councillors were appalled that the Labour Party had called a by-election to fill the vacancy left following the sad passing of Cllr Michael Hill. He said that, whilst it was not sacrosanct that if a serving councillor passed away, the position would be filled by co-option rather than calling an election, it was the accepted practice.”

Responding to Cllr Griffiths’ claim that “the Labour Party called the by-election”, a spokesperson for the local branch of the Labour Party said:

“As Cllr Griffiths will know, a political party is not able to call an election. Ten electors of the ward submitted the form requesting an election. As we understand it, the form was signed by people of many political persuasions.”

“However, as an election is taking place, the Labour Party welcomes the democratic process to allow the residents of Bradley Stoke South ward to choose who they would like to represent them on Bradley Stoke Town Council.”

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The only other Labour member on the town council is Angela Morey, who stood as an Independent in the May 2021 North ward by-election but announced six months later that she had joined the Labour Party.

Cllr Fabrizio Fazzino, elected on a Labour ticket in the May 2019 North ward election, switched to the Green Party in August 2021.

More information and related links:

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 25). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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