August 23 2014 Latest news:
Friday, May 23, 2014
Despite not taking any seats in the latest round of Colchester Borough Council elections, UKIP posed a threat to all the main parties as they came second in nine of the 14 wards it contested.
The party polled almost 16% of the total votes cast, despite only contesting 14 of the 20 seats up for grabs, and came closest in Tiptree where Harry Royle lost out by just 85 votes to sitting Conservative councillor John Elliott.
Ron Levy, secretary of UKIP’s Colchester branch, said the party had hoped to win some seats and had particularly targeted Shrub End, Mile End and Castle wards - where it came third, second and fifth respectively.
UKIP’s limited success was played down by members of the other parties as being strongly influenced by the polls being held on the same day as the European elections.
However Mr Levy said: “Of course it is a little disappointing we did not win seats, we were hoping for at least one, possibly two.
“But it is encouraging we have come consistently second in a number of seats, as we did last year in the county council elections.
“The gap is definitely narrowing, and doing so consistently. We need to be a bit more patient and take a little more time.
“This would suggest our improvement is not dependent on the Euro elections. It is easy to make explanations like that for other people, but we are fighting them and we know what people are saying and what sort of response we are getting from people.”
Elsewhere in Essex UKIP took its first council seats, causing some authorities to fall into no overall control.
The Green party, which challenged every seat, came second in three wards.
Only one seat changed hands as Labour’s Chris Pearson took the Berechurch ward from the Liberal Democrats, whose incumbent councillor Colin Mudie stepped down at Thursday’s polls.
Mr Pearson said: “It feels good to win and reinforces the message that Labour’s pavement politics work in the town of Colchester.”
The hotly contested Castle ward, which was almost a five-way battle between parties, was the only seat to go to a recount but was defended by sitting Lib Dem councillor Bill Frame.
Mr Frame said: “My nerves were a bit shredded, but nevertheless I am happy to have held the seat.”
It means there is no overall change in the Lib/Lab/Independent coalition administration, though the existing council leader Lib Dem Anne Turrell has announced she will step down from the role when the authority next meets.
Current deputy leader Martin Hunt is tipped to take over the leadership.
Mrs Turrell, who has been leader for six years, said: “I am really pleased with the results, and if you look at the rest of the country we have done well here.”