Essex Elections 2019: First-ever Green councillor in Colchester ousts Conservative leader
- Credit: 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.
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.
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The council is now made up of 23 Conservatives, 13 Lib Dems, 11 Labour, three Independents and one Green.
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.
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“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.
“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.”
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:
Chris Pearson* (Lab) 1,058, Mick Spindler (LD) 490, Fabian Green (C) 301, Mary Bryan (G) 142. Turnout: 27.38%.
Mark Goacher (G) 1,724, Darius Laws* (C) 901, Victoria Weaver (Lab) 268, Verity Woolley (LD) 193. Turnout: 40.54%.
Tim Young* (Lab) 971, Christopher Piggott (C) 388, Chantelle-Louise Whyborn (LD) 281, Christopher Lee (Ind) 228, John Clifton (G) 169. Turnout: 20.36%.
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%.
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%.
Lesley Scott-Boutell* (LD) 1,237, Jeremy Hagon (C) 795, Katie Francis (G) 171, John Spademan (Lab) 143. Turnout: 34.95%.
Barbara Wood* (C) 1,315, Paul Jeffs (Lab) 303, Wolfgang Fauser (G) 232, Gemma Graham (LD) 198. Turnout: 29.28%.
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.