Labour leader loses his seat

THE Labour leader of Braintree District Council lost his seat last night and his party looked set to lose control of the council as early results brought the Conservatives gains at the ruling party's expense.

THE Labour leader of Braintree District Council lost his seat last night and his party looked set to lose control of the council as early results brought the Conservatives gains at the ruling party's expense.

Ian Pointon, leader of the Labour Party on the council, lost his Witham Chippenhill and Central Ward to the Conservatives and both Yeldham and Coggeshall also fell to the Conservatives, bringing sighs of despair among the Labour camp.

Stretching from the Essex-Suffolk border in the north to Hatfield Peveral in the south, the district is expected to follow a town-country divide with the rural north of the district predicted to turn into a sea of blue, with Labour holding the three urban centres of Braintree, Halstead and Witham.

Yeldham, which has been an isolated red spot in the north, was the first result through and was the Conservative gain for Nigel McCrea. The previous holder John Kotz had stood down after many years on the council.


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Braintree district Conservative leader David Finch said: "We are pleased we have taken Great Yeldham back. I think it's a positive indication that Tories are clawing their way back. Great Yeldham was a red spot among the blue. It's pleasing to have lanced the boil."

David Mann, one of Labour's portfolio holders said: "The results so far are very mixed. We are very gratified by the strength of Labour shown in some individual wards, but are disappointed with the loss of Coggeshall ward. It could be that overall the ward changes have worked to our disadvantage."

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All 60 seats were up for re-election with 161 candidates contesting them. All but six of the 30 wards have been subject to boundary changes since the 1999 election.

Many long-standing councillors have retired from local politics with this election, including Labour member George Warne, who has been on the council almost continuously since 1974.

The Labour party has been in control of the council since 1999, holding all positions on the cabinet, although no party has overall control.

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