Wednesbury by-election next month to replace suspended councillor who later resigned

A by-election to replace a Sandwell councillor who was suspended by the Labour party is set to take place next month.

Sandwell Council House
Sandwell Council House

Residents in the Wednesbury South ward will cast their vote on October 27. Campaigners from both the Conservatives and Labour will be door-knocking local residents to try and win the vacant seat.

The council ward holds three seats. Two seats are held by Labour councillors –  Olwen Jones and Ian Chambers. Councillor Chambers was elected as a  Conservative in May 2021, but defected to Labour in January this year.

The by-election has been called to replace Kirat Singh, who was elected to the ward in May 2021. At the time, Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer said candidates selected in local elections proved that his party was “making changes” in Sandwell.

But Mr Singh was suspended by Labour only two months into his role. The reasons for his suspension have not been made public, but it's understood one of the reasons relates to his recent employment in a politically restrictive role.

After being suspended Mr Singh attended only one out of 10 Sandwell council meetings. He resigned as councillor in August.

Labour sources are hopeful the party will win the by-election comfortably, given its performance at the local elections in May, where it gained three seats, and its buoyant national polling under current leader Keir Starmer.

But the Sandwell Conservatives, who gained two seats, may take a surprise victory in the ward. The party has been campaigning on a platform of scrutiny, citing commissioners entering Sandwell council to improve its governance after a damning audit report.

Despite it being a local election contest, voters may view the campaign will be viewed as a test of Liz Truss’s ability as prime minister to turn the Conservatives’ fortunes around, having been languishing in the polls since last December.

Wednesbury South has been Labour since 2022, with the exception of councillor Chambers election as a Conservative in 2021, and in 2008, where Michael Middleton beat Labour candidate Robert Evans by 71 votes.

Polling cards will be delivered to voters in the Wednesbury South ward from Monday 26 September. Six polling stations will be used for the vote.

Nominations for candidates must be made to the council by 4pm on Friday 30 September.

Anyone in the Wednesbury South ward who isn’t registered to vote needs to register by midnight on Tuesday 11 October – go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

For those that already have a postal vote in places, postal votes will be sent out from Monday, October 10 and must be returned by 10pm on Thursday,  October 27. If you would like to vote by post and you have not previously applied, applications must be received by 5pm on Wednesday, October 12.

More information can be found at www.sandwell.gov.uk/elections

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