No political party in Tower Hamlets Council has overall control after Thursday night’s by-election for Blackwall and Cubitt Town, where Labour won two seats and Conservatives one.
Out of the 21 candidates competing for the three ward seats, Christopher James Chapman (Conservative), Dave Chesterton (Labour) and Candida Ronald (Labour) will now represent the ward for the next four years.
The Labour now has 22 seats in Tower Hamlets, missing out on overall control by only one seat. Tower Hamlets First, the party of Mayor Luftur Rahman, is now the second largest party in the borough with 18 sears while the Conservative Party has five seats.
Chesterton said: “I think we worked incredibly hard and we have a number of issues that have touched a cord with people locally, I live in the ward and have been very active locally for many years and we were in touch.”
The difficulty facing Labour with no overall council control will be pushing party policies through. In such cases, normally the two largest parties make a pact for a hung council.
Asked how Labour will work with Tower Hamlets First, Councilor Chesterton said, “I really don’t know yet.” He added: “Tomorrow is the beginning of a new day as a councillor of Tower Hamlets.”
The declaration was made at 03.00am after the Returning Officer allowed a request for a recount at 01.00am.
The ward election was delayed from the date of the full council elections on May 22, following the death of candidate Hifzur Rahman during the campaign.
The by-election was marked by extra vigilance as a result of the Electoral Commission’s review into the management of the five day long election count after May 22, which deemed it as ‘inadequate’ and a police inquiry into allegations of intimidation at polling stations. Thursday night saw an increased police presence at polling stations and 12 independent officials oversaw the count.