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Essex Elections 2019: First-ever Green councillor in Colchester ousts Conservative leader

PUBLISHED: 05:39 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:49 04 May 2019

Colchester Borough Council's election before the ballot boxes begin to arrive Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

Colchester Borough Council's election before the ballot boxes begin to arrive Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

JAKE FOXFORD

Colchester looks set for another coalition council after the Conservatives' group leader dramatically lost his seat to the Greens during this year's local elections.

Ballot counters in Colchester getting ready for the arrival of agents, councillors, candidates and ballot boxes in Colchester for the 2019 local elections Picture: JAKE FOXFORDBallot counters in Colchester getting ready for the arrival of agents, councillors, candidates and ballot boxes in Colchester for the 2019 local elections Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

Only two seats changed hands in Colchester, out of 17 which were up for election.

The biggest scalp was Conservative opposition leader Darius Laws, who lost Castle ward to the brand new Green councillor Mark Goacher.

Tory Vic Flores also lost his seat in a shock result to Liberal Democrat Sam McCarthy in Shrub End.

It leaves the council likely to enter into another coalition comprised mostly of Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors, with the new Green councillor possibly featuring in the new administration.

The council is now made up of 23 Conservatives, 13 Lib Dems, 11 Labour, three Independents and one Green.

READ MORE: See the night unfold with the Essex elections live blog

Speaking after his defeat, Mr Laws said: “Naturally I'm disappointed for the Colchester Conservatives this evening and personally because I worked very hard to win the seat in the town centre.

“I am proud however that the Conservative vote did hold up and those people did come out and vote for me, which is some comfort.

Former Colchester councillor Darius Laws, who lost his seat Picture: GEMMA RAWLINSONFormer Colchester councillor Darius Laws, who lost his seat Picture: GEMMA RAWLINSON

“This time last year we made two gains against the Lib Dems and we were on the ascent, now people in Colchester are still frustrated by some of the challenges in the town centre and they do hold the council responsible for some of those.”

He also believes Brexit may have impacted on people's decisions, even though that is the responsibility of central government rather than local councils.

Colchester MP Will Quince said: “Of course I'm disappointed because I've just seen two great, hard-working councillors lose their seats. One of them is my best friend.

“It's a disappointment that the Conservatives have not taken control of the council but if you look across the board in England, the Labour vote share has collapsed and they all went to the Lib Dems and the Greens in a protest vote.”

Conservative MP Will Quince said he was disgusted to hear of Carla Hales assault in Bourne Road. Picture: Will QuinceConservative MP Will Quince said he was disgusted to hear of Carla Hales assault in Bourne Road. Picture: Will Quince

Labour's Tim Young thought the Conservatives “made a tactical mistake” by saying they were just one seat away from taking control of the council.

“I think it made people frightened,” said Mr Young.

“They went out and told people how close they were to gaining control and they voted the other way.”

Labour retained the five seats they had up for election but missed out on taking New Town and Christchurch from veteran Liberal Democrat Nick Cope, who has held a seat for the last 25 years, by just over 100 votes.

Mr Cope added: “I think the result is excellent news for Colchester. I'm feeling exhausted and a little disappointed but the Labour Party will still play a part in Colchester Borough Council.”

Council leader Mark Cory, Liberal Democrat, said: “I think the Lib Dems are coming back after years of negativity. They're seeing the stability we provided in the coalition and it's something people want.

“When we were out canvassing we were being asked on doorsteps about things like potholes and the things that the Conservative county council are failing to provide.”

This year saw the number of registered voters in Colchester surge by about 15% from 2018.

18-year-old Colchester Sixth Form student Harry Nathan stood as a Labour candidate against Mr Cory, finishing second with more than 500 votes.

“We've been round the college and Colchester Institute and signing students up there, teaching them about the importance of voting,” said Mr Nathan.

“In Wivenhoe I've been round to everyone I know who is 18 or turning 18 and getting them signed up

“We live in political times at the moment and it's important to be involved now more than ever.”

See the results in full below:

Berechurch War

Chris Pearson* (Lab) 1,058, Mick Spindler (LD) 490, Fabian Green (C) 301, Mary Bryan (G) 142. Turnout: 27.38%.

Castle Ward

Mark Goacher (G) 1,724, Darius Laws* (C) 901, Victoria Weaver (Lab) 268, Verity Woolley (LD) 193. Turnout: 40.54%.

Greenstead Ward

Tim Young* (Lab) 971, Christopher Piggott (C) 388, Chantelle-Louise Whyborn (LD) 281, Christopher Lee (Ind) 228, John Clifton (G) 169. Turnout: 20.36%.

Highwoods Ward

Bev Oxford* (Ind) 1,119, Stephen Rowe (C) 409, Jocelyn Law (Lab) 247, Mick Turrell (LD) 196, Robbie Spence (G) 155. Turnout: 29.37%.

Lexden & Braiswick Ward

Lewis Barber* (C) 1,745, Thomas Stevenson (LD) 442, Roger Bamforth (G) 403, Conrad Winch (Lab) 209. Turnout: 39.18%.

Marks Tey & Layer Ward

Andrew Ellis* (C) 1,560, Matt Stemp (G) 345, Mark Hull (LD) 328, Jan Plummer (Lab) 180. Turnout: 32.63%.

Mersea & Pyefleet Ward

Patricia Moore (C), 1,026, John Akker (Ind) 969, Carl Powling (Ind) 459, Peter Banks (G) 310, Bry Mogridge (Lab) 263, David Broise (UKIP) 248, Jenny Stevens (LD) 114. Turnout: 42.37%.

Mile End Ward

Phil Coleman* (LD) 1,447, Natalie Rowe (C) 463, Amanda Kirke (G) 216, Sarah Ryder (Lab) 201. Turnout: 28.64%.

New Town & Christ Church Ward

Nick Cope* (LD) 1,128, Elisa Vasquez-Walters (Lab) 992, Carla Hales (C) 604, Bob Brannan (G) 390. Turnout: 33.37%.

Old Heath & The Hythe Ward

Adam Fox* (Lab) 1,181, Michael McDonnell (C) 475, Andrew Canessa (G) 323, Mark Kiley (LD) 292. Turnout: 27.54%.

Prettygate Ward

Beverly Davies* (C) 1,520, John Loxley (LD) 600, Jamie Overland (Lab) 351, Clare Palmer (G) 336. Turnout: 36.32%.

Rural North Ward

Nigel Chapman* (C) 1,786, Sue Bailey (G) 454, Will Brown (LD) 445, Judith Short (Lab) 225. Turnout: 34.9%.

Shrub End Ward

Sam McCarthy (LD) 878, Vic Flores* (C) 714, Rosalind Scott (Lab) 364, Blake Roberts (G) 154. Turnout: 27.3%.

St Anne's & St John's Ward

Helen Chuah* (LD) 1,238, Thomas Rowe (C) 1,118, Megan Maltby (G) 217, HK Norman (Lab) 213. Turnout: 34.29%.

Stanway Ward

Lesley Scott-Boutell* (LD) 1,237, Jeremy Hagon (C) 795, Katie Francis (G) 171, John Spademan (Lab) 143. Turnout: 34.95%.

Tiptree Ward

Barbara Wood* (C) 1,315, Paul Jeffs (Lab) 303, Wolfgang Fauser (G) 232, Gemma Graham (LD) 198. Turnout: 29.28%.

Wivenhoe Ward

Mark Cory* (LD) 2,131, Harry Nathan (Lab) 571, Jodie Clark (C) 267, John McArthur (G) 198. Turnout: 39.08%.

Key: C – Conservative, Lab – Labour, LD – Liberal Democrats, Ind – Independent, UKIP – UK Independence Party, G – Green Party.

An asterisk denotes the sitting councillor in that authority.

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