Tory jubilation short-lived in Fenland as they lose control of county council

Cllr Simon King

Cllr Simon King who held onto his Roman Bank seat - Credit: Harry Rutter

Early Friday at the Hudson leisure centre in Wisbech and the celebrations are about to begin as every available seat – for county, district and town – goes to the Conservatives. 

County council leader Steve Count wins a handsome victory in March North & Waldersey, along with his colleague Cllr Jan French.  

Andy Maul and Steve Tierney

Andy Maul (left) who lost out to Steve Tierney - Credit: Harry Rutter

And the pattern is repeated as the results are declared, Labour, Lib Dem, Green and other opposition parties or individual candidates swept away.  

MP Steve Barclay

MP Steve Barclay drops into the county at the Hudson - Credit: Harry Rutter

But the celebrations are to be short-lived for across the rest of Cambridgeshire, change is afoot.  

The eight divisions of Fenland that returned the same nine successful Conservative councillors was history repeating itself but elsewhere seats become harder to come by.   

Once all 61 results are in, the Conservatives have 28 seats on the new administration - six less than they had before. 

Dave Patrick and Gavin Booth

Dave Patrick (left) and Gavin Booth, both FDC councillors but both unsuccessful in their respective bids to become county councillors. - Credit: Harry Rutter

Lib Dems, as expected, picked up seats in SE and South Cambs and now have 20 seats.  

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Labour has nine seats with independents taking up the remaining four.   

Cambridgeshire County Council is officially an authority with NOC – No Overall Control. 

Dave Topgood

Fenland councillor Dave Topgood joins in the Tory celebrations at the Hudson - Credit: Harry Rutter

It will be a tense time for all parties as they work out what happens next.  

The annual meeting of the council is at Duxford on May 18 by which time some form of resolution will have been reached. 

Cllr Steve Count

Cllr Steve Count - Credit: Harry Rutter

Meanwhile there is puzzlement – and some disquiet – in Tory circles over whether the Conservatives retain Steve Count as their leader.   

He has been under pressure since his deputy Roger Hickford quit the council over the farmgate report.   

That report, so far unpublished, will be a priority aspiration for opposition groups who have consistently demanded its release into the public domain.   

Cllr Samantha Hoy

Cllr Samantha Hoy - Credit: Harry Rutter

There will also be demands for greater transparency over the loans issued to the council’s property arm, This Land Ltd.  

It has received over £100m to establish and set up a new housing company and many opposition councillors have called for more information to be shared with elected members.   

Paul Medd

Returning officer Paul Medd - Credit: Harry Rutter

Cllr Count remained tight-lipped over publication of the ‘farmgate’ report after a handsome win in his own division.   

He declined to comment on whether the report into how Mr Hickford acquired the tenancy of Manor Farm in Girton would be made public.  

“It’s not my report and it’s their (the audit and accounts committee) decision on what they do with the report,” Cllr Count said.    

MP Barclay and Cllr Tierney

MP Steve Barclay (right) with Cllr Steve Tierney - Credit: Harry Rutter

“I will not be accused of interfering with that one way or another.”  

Cllr Count and Cllr French secured joint victory in the two-member seat for another four-year term.  

There was only a 28.36 per cent turnout their division but Cllr Count said there was a rise in postal votes and, like other candidates, he believes a bigger push on encouraging more people to vote is needed.  

“We have to engage on social media much more and it’s difficult for those who only engage just through social media for them to turn up at the polling station,” he said.  

“I am sure Covid had an impact on voters, and to a certain extent, there was a good return for Tories throughout Fenland.”  

Cllr Chris Boden

Cllr Chris Boden - Credit: Harry Rutter

Cllr Chris Boden, also re-elected to the county council, concentrated on issues in his Whittlesey division.  

He said his main aim will be to “do whatever it takes” to build a multi-million-pound bypass.  

Cllr Boden said he is determined to make progress on a new relief road at Whittlesey, which is still in the early stages of development.

Cllr David Connor

Cllr David Connor - Credit: Harry Rutter


The leader of Fenland District Council retained his Whittlesey North seat on Cambridgeshire County Council after claiming 2,055 votes, nearly 1,500 more than his closest rival in a division of three candidates. 

Whittlesey South victor Cllr David Connor: "I would like to thank the residents who put their faith in me for another four years, despite the not so good press for our other candidate.”  

Julie Windle

Whittlesey councillor Julie Windle snapping the moment at the count at the Hudson - Credit: Harry Rutter

Defeated Labour candidate Jes Hibbert: "I'd like to thank the other Labour candidates who have given their all over the last few weeks and kept morale high when things were getting sad.  

"I'd like to congratulate Dave and I'll keep him true to his word."  

Cllr Jan French

Cllr Jan French - Credit: Harry Rutter

In Chatteris Anne Hay was in ebullient mood as she pulled off a decisive victory. held 

"I'd like to thank the residents of Chatteris for putting their trust in me,” she said.  

“I promise I will continue to fight so that Chatteris continues to grow in a positive way." 

Tories held both Wisbech West and Wisbech East.  

Steve Tierney retained his west division, polling 1,049 votes to the independent Andy Maul who secured 451 votes.   

Cllr Anne Hay

Cllr Anne Hay - Credit: Harry Rutter

Labour's Daniel Kerry came third with 202 votes, Ted Hurlock fourth for UKIP with 97 votes.  

A fifth candidate, independent Lynn Monk, managed 27 votes.  

In Wisbech East, Samantha Hoy, the sitting councillor, topped the poll for the Conservatives with 1,358 votes.   

Homeless champion and independent candidate Spike Crowson was second with 358 votes.   

Labour's Reg Mee was third with 286 votes, Lib Dem challenger Rasa McGill was fourth with 119 votes.   

Cllr John Gowing

Cllr John Gowing - Credit: Harry Rutter

Clayton Payne of the Workers Party of Britain was bottom with 48 votes. 

And in the rural seat of Roman Bank and Peckover, Simon King kept his Conservative seat.  

Cllr Tierney: "I would like to thank those that have assisted me and my mum and dad who have worked their socks off. 

Jes Hibbert

Defeated Labour candidate Jes Hibbert - Credit: Harry Rutter

"This has been a pretty grim election, but hard work wins elections and that's what I intend to do going forwards." 

Cllr King said: "I would like to thank voters who put their faith in me again and I will do my best not to disappoint you and will work for the people who didn't vote for me. 

Cllr Chris Boden

Cllr Chris Boden - Credit: Harry Rutter

He added: "This campaign has been characterised by half-truths, lies and distortions and that makes me really sad. 


Dan Mason, reporter, with Cllr Steve Count

Reporter Dan Mason interviews county council leader Steve Count - Credit: Harry Rutter

"I'm glad the people of Fenland could see through that, so thank you to the voters who voted for me." 

CCC count

Counting under way at Hudson - Credit: Harry Rutter



CHATTERIS  

Anne Hay - Elected 

Conservative (1410 votes / 59.12%) 

Andrew Crawford 

Green  (157 votes / 6.58%) 

Daniel Divine 

Independent (405 votes / 16.98%) 

Marian Phillips 

Labour (413 votes / 17.32%) 



MARCH NORTH AND WALDERSEY  

Steve Count - Elected 

Conservative (2906 votes / 30.74%) 

Janet French - Elected 

Conservative (2978 votes / 31.50%) 

Jazmin Stewart 

Green (446 votes / 4.72%) 

Sarah Bligh 

Liberal Democrats (640 votes / 6.77%) 

Martin Field 

Labour (1053 votes / 11.14%) 

David Patrick 

Independent (381 votes / 4.03%) 

Mark Taylor 

Green (667 votes / 7.05%) 

Robert White 

Green (384 votes / 4.06%) 


MARCH SOUTH AND RURAL  

John Gowing - Elected 

Conservative (1819 votes / 68.51%) 

Amanda Hirson 

Labour (480 votes / 18.08%) 

Liam O’Rourke 

Liberal Democrats (192 votes / 7.23%) 

Emma Pollard 

Green (164 votes / 6.18%) 


ROMAN BANK AND PECKOVER  

Simon King - Elected 

Conservative (1728 votes / 57.56%) 

Chris Mountain 

Labour (242 votes / 8.06%) 

Gavin Booth 

Liberal Democrats (895 votes / 29.81%) 

Ruth Johnson 

Green (137 votes / 4.56%) 


WHITTLESEY NORTH  

Chris Boden - Elected 

Conservative (2055 votes / 75.39%) 

Peter Bibb 

Labour (571 votes / 20.95%) 

Diane Cutler 

Liberal Democrats (100 votes / 3.67%) 


WHITTLESEY SOUTH  

David Connor - Elected 

Conservative (1727 votes / 61.09%) 

Jes Hibbert 

Labour (497 votes / 17.58%) 

Bob Wicks 

Independent (455 votes / 16.09%) 

Simon Wilkes 

Green (148 votes / 5.24%) 


WISBECH EAST  

Spike Crowson 

Independent (358 votes / 16.51%) 

Samantha Hoy - Elected 

Conservative (1358 votes / 62.61%) 

Rasa McGill 

Liberal Democrats (119 votes / 5.49%) 

Reginald Mee 

Labour (286 votes / 13.19%) 

Clayton Payne 

Workers Party of Britain (48 votes / 2.21%) 


WISBECH WEST  

Ted Hurlock 

UKIP (97 votes / 5.31%) 

Andy Maul 

Independent (451 votes / 24.70%) 

Lynn Monk 

Independent (27 votes / 1.48%) 

Steven Tierney - Elected 

Conservative (1049 votes / 57.45%) 

Daniel Kerry 

Labour (202 votes / 11.06%) 

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