Luke Akehurst's indispensable weekly round-up of council by-election results draws attention to a stunning Labour gain, on a 16.5% swing from the Conservatives, in the Wednesbury North ward of Sandwell MBC. As the BBC regional news reports, the Tories have held this ward for 36 years.
But Sandwell was one of the worst affected by the crass handling of the Building Schools for the Future programme at the Department for Education. Not only did the council lose its vital regeneration projects, but it was told it had retained them before ministers had to contradict themselves. Nine major projects were lost - and as locals had seen the benefits of BSF already in other new local schools, they didn't swallow Michael Gove's line about it being a useless scheme. The Deputy Leader of the Conservative group, Elaine Costigan, another Wednesbury councillor, was so 'ashamed' of the decision that she joined Labour.
It would seem that the people of Sandwell have not yet forgiven the coalition for such shabby treatment, as both the Tories and Lib Dems both lost votes to Labour in almost equal numbers.