Ousted leader blames cuts for election defeat

THE ousted leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) has blamed the government cuts and widespread misinformation for his defeat at Thursday’s district elections.

Cllr Fred Brown said his time as leader was blighted by budget deficits and cut-backs and that he ultimately paid the price for the difficult decisions made by the ruling Conservative group.

Cllr Brown, who was first elected to the district council in 1987, was removed from his seat in Littleport East after the poll results showed his total of 559 votes was short of both fellow Conservative David Ambrose Smith (577) and independent candidate Andy Wright (651).

Despite being left frustrated by the result, Cllr Brown said he wasn’t surprised.

“When I left home to go to the count I told to my wife not to be surprised if it was bad news,” said Cllr Brown.

“Everything went against me on the night and to lose by such a small margin is perhaps more frustrating than losing heavily.

“I have done my very best for the village over the years but there was nothing I could do about all the misinformation that was put out about me being responsible for the government cuts.”

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Cllr Brown said he inherited a budget that was overspent by �2 million when first elected leader of the council and budget cuts imposed by central government after that made his job increasingly difficult.

“I think because I was the figurehead people were obviously going to associate me with bad news,” he said.

It was an altogether rosier picture for Cllr Brown’s Conservative colleagues on the night however, as they were returned to power with a majority of 11 seats.

Following the count, East Cambs District Council is now made up of 25 Conservative, 10 Liberal Democrat and four Independent councillors.

The count began in Soham at 10pm, just as the first ballot boxes arrived and then went through the night with last result declared after a close recount at Soham South at 7.05am.