Election shock: Tories lose overall control of Cambridgeshire County Council
- Credit: Harry Rutter
Conservatives lost overall control of Cambridgeshire County Council following yesterday's elections.
All 61 results are now in and the Conservatives have 28 seats on the new administration with Lib Dems in second place with 20 seats.
Labour has nine seats on the council with independents taking up the remaining four.
It will be a tense few days for all parties as they work out what happens next.
And there will be 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 leader 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That report, so far unpublished, will be a priority aspiration for opposition groups who have consistently demanded its release into the public domain.
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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.
Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count remained tight-lipped over publication of the ‘farmgate’ report after a handsome win in his own division in March.
Cllr Count, alongside Conservative colleague Jan French, scooped nearly 6,000 votes in total for the March North and Waldersey seat today (Friday).
However, the Tory councillor declined to comment on whether a report into how ex-deputy county council leader Roger Hickford acquired the tenancy of Manor Farm in Girton should be made public.
“It’s not my report and it’s their (audit and accounts committee) decision on what they do with the report,” Mr Count said.
“I will not be accused of interfering with that one way or another.”
Cllr Count and Cllr French defended the two-member seat for another four-year term, despite the Conservatives losing overall control of the county council.
There was only a 28.36 per cent turnout in March North and Waldersey, but Cllr Count said there was a rise in postal votes and, like other candidates, 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, also re-elected to the county council, concentrated on local issues in his Whittlesey division.
He said his main aim as a re-elected county councillor 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.
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.
The Conservatives look to be retaining their Fenland dominance on Cambridgeshire County Council.
But across in East Cambridgeshire there has been a marked shift to the Liberal Democrats picking up both Ely seats.
Latest results from Fenland includes David Connors retaining his county seat: he polled 1,727 votes.
In second place was Jes Hibbert (Lab) with 497 votes, whilst.
Independent Bob Wicks came third with 455 votes.
In bottom position was the Green Party candidate Simon Wilkes; he polled 148 votes. Whittlesey South: Connor 1,727, Hibbert 497, Wicks 455, Wilkes 158
Cllr Connor: "I would like to thank Jes for doing more or less a clean campaign. 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.
Mr 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."
March South and Rural: Gowing (Con) 1,819, Hirson 480, O'Rourke 192, Pollard 164
Chatteris: Hay (Con) 1,410, Philips 413, Divine 405, Crawford 157
Cllr Anne Hay: "I'd like to thank the residents of Chatteris for putting their trust in me and I promise I will continue to fight so that Chatteris continues to grow in a positive way."