Local elections 2021: Little change in Essex as Conservatives keep control

Colchester count

The election count at Colchester. - Credit: Colchester Borough Council

The Conservatives remained firmly in control at Essex County Council after securing a healthy majority in Thursday's local elections.

There were few changes with the electoral make-up of the county, with opposition split between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats - with a handful of residents groups and independents.

The Conservatives won 52 of the 75 seats on the authority, with the next largest group being the eight-strong Liberal Democrats - whose main strength is in the Colchester and Chelmsford areas.

One of the key decisions for the new Conservative administration at County Hall in Chelmsford will be to choose a new council leader.

Outgoing leader David Finch did not stand in Thursday's elections, so newly-elected councillors will have to choose his successor before a new administration can be formed.

Deputy leader Kevin Bentley was re-elected for the Stanway division and is one of the favourites to take over the top job.

However, like Mr Finch he is from the north of the county - and there may be pressure for the new leader to come from the south of Essex.

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Labour group leader and former MP Ivan Henderson retained his seat at Harwich - but his group lost a seat and has shrunk to just five members.

Labour also won the Abbey and Maypole seats in Colchester.

The Liberal Democrats did increase their representation at County Hall - but even if all the opposition councillors work together, the Tories will retain a very substantial majority.

Independent candidate Mark Stephenson won the Clacton East seat, while the Liberal Democrats won seats at Highwoods in Colchester and Wivenhoe.

Other seats in the north of Essex were solidly Conservative, although the new Residents for Uttlesford won two seats near Stansted Airport.

Unlike in Suffolk, the Green Party did not make a great breakthrough - although it did win a seat at Braintree East.