The Bristol community with two votes on General Election day

A general view of Horfield, looking up Gloucester Road at the start of Horfield Common
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)


People living in one part of Bristol will have to two votes to make when they go into the polling station on General Election Day on July 4 - because what could be a crucial by-election for the city council is happening at the same time.

Voters in Horfield will be asked to choose a city councillor to represent them, just two months after they already did that, after a gaffe involving the Labour Party councillor who was elected on May 2.

The by-election is an early opportunity for the Green Party to win another seat at City Hall, which would take their number up to 35 - exactly half the 70 councillors the represent the city.

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Two councillors represent the Horfield ward, and when voters cast their ballots on May 2, both Labour candidates were elected, including Labour group leader Cllr Tom Renhard. The other Labour candidate was Deborah Vittori, but when she arrived at City Hall to be confirmed as a councillor last month, there was a problem and she was barred.

Ms Vittori is a primary school teacher, but because the school she works at is one run directly by the city council as local education authority, and not by an academy trust, her employer is technically Bristol City Council - and council employees are not allowed to also be elected councillors.

Labour's councillors in Horfield, Tom Renhard and Deborah Vittori
Labour's councillors in Horfield, Tom Renhard and Deborah Vittori after winning the May 2, 2024 election -Credit:Bristol Post

This wasn’t picked up by the Labour Party before they nominated her to be the second candidate in Horfield - only after the election happened and she won it. That meant she was disqualified from being a councillor just 17 days after the election, and a by-election now has to be held to choose a councillor again - which will take place on July 4 at the same time as the General Election.

Five political parties are contesting the Horfield by-election. Labour has chosen Carole Johnson, a former councillor who represented the neighbouring Ashley ward for five years from 2016 to 2021, when she was defeated by the Green Party. She stood again for Labour in St George in May 2024, but again lost out to the Green Party.

The Green Party has chosen Anna Meares as its candidate. She stood in Horfield in May this year, and came third to the two Labour candidates.

The Lib Dem candidate is Roxanne Lock, who came seventh in Horfield in May, while Sharon Scott has been named as the Conservative candidate, and Joan Molins is standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition once again too.

The Horfield ward is within the Bristol North West constituency, where Labour’s Darren Jones is defending his parliamentary seat. It stretches from the road outside Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium - but not the stadium itself - and then both sides of Gloucester Road as far west as Southmead Hospital and Southmead Road and as far north as Orchard School.

At the May 2024 election, voters were asked to make two votes for two councillors, and the final tally was as follows:

  • Tom Renard (Labour) 1495

  • Deborah Vittori (Labour) 1485

  • Anna Meares (Green) 903

  • Stephen Lloyd (Green) 672

  • Simon Davies (Con) 466

  • Roddy Jacques (Con) 417

  • Roxanne Lock (Lib Dem) 193

  • Ian Parry (Lib Dem) 132

  • Joan Molins (TUSC) 91

The boundaries of the Horfield ward, for Bristol City Council
The boundaries of the Horfield ward, for Bristol City Council -Credit:Ordnance Survey

An upset for the Green Party in this ward - they need to overturn a 582-vote majority - would mean the party could - in theory - hold a working majority at City Hall for the first time because, with exactly half the councillors and the casting vote of the Lord Mayor, they would not need support from any other party.

However, the Green Party have agreed to the Lib Dems holding committee chair positions in the new committee-led system that followed the scrapping of the mayoral role, and, in any case, the Lord Mayor for the next year at least is a Lib Dem.