Tory jubilation short-lived in Fenland as they lose control of county council
- 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.
And the pattern is repeated as the results are declared, Labour, Lib Dem, Green and other opposition parties or individual candidates swept away.
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.
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Once all 61 results are in, the Conservatives have 28 seats on the new administration - six less than they had before.
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.
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.
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That report, so far unpublished, will be a priority aspiration for opposition groups who have consistently demanded its release into the public domain.
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.
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.
“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, 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.
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.”
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."
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.
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.
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.
"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.
He added: "This campaign has been characterised by half-truths, lies and distortions and that makes me really sad.
"I'm glad the people of Fenland could see through that, so thank you to the voters who voted for me."
Anne Hay - Elected
Conservative (1410 votes / 59.12%)
Green (157 votes / 6.58%)
Independent (405 votes / 16.98%)
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%)
Green (446 votes / 4.72%)
Liberal Democrats (640 votes / 6.77%)
Labour (1053 votes / 11.14%)
Independent (381 votes / 4.03%)
Green (667 votes / 7.05%)
Green (384 votes / 4.06%)
MARCH SOUTH AND RURAL
John Gowing - Elected
Conservative (1819 votes / 68.51%)
Labour (480 votes / 18.08%)
Liberal Democrats (192 votes / 7.23%)
Green (164 votes / 6.18%)
ROMAN BANK AND PECKOVER
Simon King - Elected
Conservative (1728 votes / 57.56%)
Labour (242 votes / 8.06%)
Liberal Democrats (895 votes / 29.81%)
Green (137 votes / 4.56%)
Chris Boden - Elected
Conservative (2055 votes / 75.39%)
Labour (571 votes / 20.95%)
Liberal Democrats (100 votes / 3.67%)
David Connor - Elected
Conservative (1727 votes / 61.09%)
Labour (497 votes / 17.58%)
Independent (455 votes / 16.09%)
Green (148 votes / 5.24%)
Independent (358 votes / 16.51%)
Samantha Hoy - Elected
Conservative (1358 votes / 62.61%)
Liberal Democrats (119 votes / 5.49%)
Labour (286 votes / 13.19%)
Workers Party of Britain (48 votes / 2.21%)
UKIP (97 votes / 5.31%)
Independent (451 votes / 24.70%)
Independent (27 votes / 1.48%)
Steven Tierney - Elected
Conservative (1049 votes / 57.45%)
Labour (202 votes / 11.06%)