The municipal elections of 1964 offered the Chester Labour Party its first opportunity of securing a slight overall majority on the council, because seven of the fourteen aldermen came up for re-election. The Labour group decided to break with convention by not voting for two of the retiring Conservative aldermen, and secured the promotion of three Labour councillors, two in their stead and a third to replace another retiring Conservative who did not stand again. Two of the three new aldermen represented safe Labour wards, and in the four by-elections called to replace them and another Labour councillor who died, the party was set the fairly easy task of winning only two of the four vacancies in order to establish an overall majority on the council. The poll gave Labour three out of the four seats and therefore a slight working majority — thirty seats to twenty-six held by the opposition. The elections of 1965 in fact redressed the balance in favour ofthe Conservatives. But the events of 1964 marked an important stage in the development of the party system in the city. The municipal elections took place not only against the background ofpreparations for the general election but also in an atmosphere of speculation about the possible recommendations of the Local Government Commission on the city’s future status and size. The Commission did not announce its findings until December 1965. The extension ofthe city boundaries which it recommended meant that the electoral system of seven six-member wards would have to be altered. It was apparent in 1964 that the existing habits of the two major parties were due for a change.
KeywordsFamily Firm Electoral System Rural District County Council Labour Party
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