As I write the polls are still open for the Cambridge local elections, but there has already been one gain for Labour – Cllr Pogonowski, Green councillor for Abbey ward, has announced that he is defecting to the Labour party. Cllr Pogonowski is not standing for election this year – his term does not expire until 2014 – but what does this mean for the balance of power on the City Council?
Here is the graphic from my earlier article which shows which party would control the Council depending on how many seats Labour and the Lib Dems win today:
The numbers across the top indicate the seats won by Labour and the Lib Dems respectively, and the coloured squares show who would have control of the council. Here is an updated graphic showing the position after Cllr Pogonowski’s defection:
In both cases I am assuming that Labour will gain the seat in Abbey that is up for election today from the Greens, and that Indepedent councillor John Hipkin will retain his seat in Castle ward.
As you can see, the Lib Dems still only need to win four seats today to retain control of the council on the Mayor’s casting vote. If the Lib Dems win three, and Labour win ten, bringing their overall total to 21, they will still not have guaranteed control, because the other 21 councillors, with the outgoing Lib Dem mayor’s casting vote, could elect a non-Labour mayor. Independent councillor John Hipkin (assuming he is re-elected) would have a crucial role in this scenario. Only if Labour win 11 seats today and the Lib Dems win just two will Cllr Pogonowski’s defection make any difference – it would mean they will now be guaranteed control, whereas before it would have been just outside their grasp. But this is still very much in landslide territory. The position in 2014 outlined in my earlier article is unchanged, as I was assuming that Labour would win Cllr Pogonowski’s seat from the Greens in any case.
We will know the outcome soon enough as the polls close at 10pm.