East of England – let joy be somewhat unconfined…

Greetings from an election-free Gipping Valley, where it gives me great pleasure to report on events in the East of England. In truth, you can pretty much divide the region into two halves today. In Norfolk and Suffolk, only the county towns saw election action, and Bedfordshire sat this one out altogether. That left Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire to fight, and the results have been pretty good.

We’ll start with Essex, which saw gains in Brentwood (2), Colchester (2), Rochford (2), Epping Forest and Southend-on-Sea, as half of the councils were up, which indicates that progress is being made. The Conservative/Independent coalition running Colchester is expected to be replaced with a Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition of partners, with the Liberal Democrats holding one more seat than Labour. Will Quince, no replacement for Bob Russell in truth, should be looking over his shoulder for next time, although the split opposition might be his salvation.

In Cambridgeshire, attention was on the Liberal Democrat defence of South Cambridgeshire, where we’d won thirty of the forty-five seats in 2018. Despite an attempt by local Conservatives to decapitate Bridget Smith in Gamlingay, she increased her majority by four, whilst all around her, Liberal Democrats were storming home with increased majorities. We now hold thirty-seven of the forty-five seats, with eight Conservatives left to bind their wounds and mourn the fallen. And, with the Labour and Independent councillors falling too, it could be said to be a very good night for a very well-organised Local Party. As for the local Conservatives, their social media operation might need a slight recalibration…

Huntingdonshire went NOC, with three Lib Dem gains, and we’ll see what happens with the independents there, whilst Peterborough held on to their four seats in spite of strong competition. The only disappointment came from Cambridge, where three seats were lost to Labour.

But it is Hertfordshire which saw the most sensational result of the night, where St Albans saw twenty gains as the Conservatives were reduced to four councillors from twenty-two, leaving the council with fifty Liberal Democrats, facing a combined opposition of six (one Green and one Independent to go along with the four Conservatives). I do think that the Local party got this a bit wrong though…

Elsewhere, Peter Taylor swept to victory in the Watford mayoralty, increasing his vote from 2018 by 6% and winning on first preferences, and there was a gain from Labour to take the Group to twenty-seven against nine Labour. I ought to mention Ian Stotesbury, who increased his majority in Callowland ward very nicely. Or was it his friend wot won it?…

Three Rivers Liberal Democrats might be disappointed to lose a seat to the Greens, but congratulations go out to our former colleague, Sara Bedford, who retained her seat easily in Abbots Langley and Bedmond, whilst there were two gains in North Hertfordshire to take the Group there to thirteen.

I ought to note the result in Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield, where Michal Siewniak, and his running mate, Gemma Moore, were elected with 67% of the vote. Congratulations to Michal and Gemma!

With no change in Ipswich or Norwich, I make the final position for the Liberal Democrats across the Region as a gain of thirty-nine seats. Congratulations to all who fought seats, regardless of the outcome, and with next year seeing District Council contests across the rest of the Region, it’s a real encouragement for those of us who are facing Conservative-led authorities!

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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2 Comments

  • Simon Banks 7th May '22 - 8:36am

    Nice to see in a Colchester ward where I helped a bit, we took out the Tory leader of the council. Incredible results in St Albans and South Cambs. In general the picture seems to be that Labour, where already strong, did very well in diverse and socially liberal areas (London, Cambridge) and still hasn’t won the Red Wall back except in Wales. We made big gains against Blue Wall Tories where we were already quite strong, but in some socially similar places where we were weak, we stay weak. There are some very encouraging results from the North, revival at last, not only Hull and Farronland but places where we’ve gone from 0 to 1, so important. On recent trends, the Scottish and Welsh results are better than might have been expected, too. Overall, the pointers are probably a bit better for general election seats than the overall figures might suggest.

  • Plus 2 years is a long time in politics.

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