No change in Colchester
THE political make-up on Colchester Borough Council has been shaken up, but – for this year, at least – it looks unlikely to change.That was the prediction of senior councillors yesterday in the wake of Thursday's local government elections, in which the Liberal Democrats resisted the Conservatives' otherwise Essex-wide electoral comeback.
THE political make-up on Colchester Borough Council has been shaken up, but – for this year, at least – it looks unlikely to change.
That was the prediction of senior councillors yesterday in the wake of Thursday's local government elections, in which the Liberal Democrats resisted the Conservatives' otherwise Essex-wide electoral comeback.
The council remains hung and, unless the Tories walk away from the cabinet table, it looks likely its multi-party balance will remain unaltered.
Although the Conservatives made gains – they took a Tiptree and a Highwoods seat, both from Independents – they also suffered losses to Lib Dems targeting their wards.
Former Lib Dem mayor Martin Hunt romped home in Christchurch after a three-year exile from the council chamber, deposing Tory Roger Buston, while Sandra Gray snatched Prettygate from Conservative councillor Ron Levy.
Labour, however, made only one gain, bringing the party's head count on the council to five, one down from last year's total – regarded as many in itself as a disastrous result.
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Before May 2002 and boundary changes throughout the borough, the party had held 14 seats on the council.
But more bad news could follow for the party. Labour's only Wivenhoe councillor, Bob Newman, was said to be "considering his position" after the election of Richard Bourne in Shrub End.
He was understood to be in tentative discussions with Independent Labour councillor Don Quinn and fellow Wivenhoe Quay councillor Richard Davies about the formation of a new Independent group.
After the count, Labour group leader Tim Young admitted he was slightly disappointed with the result.
"We expected to get a few more gains, but this is Colchester Borough Council and as usual it's a very interesting situation – let the discussions begin.
"It could have been worse. We are rebuilding in Colchester. Labour will come back here – there is a lot of support in this borough and we will be back."
Conservative leader John Jowers said: "I will talk to the other parties and we will see what the best thing for Colchester is. It's difficult to call at the moment because we don't know what the Independents will be doing.
"However, the electorate in Colchester are sophisticated and it may be they are telling us they prefer pragmatic, consensus politics rather than having one party in overall control at the moment."
Lib Dem leader and current council leader, Colin Sykes, said: "I'm very pleased with the result. There was only one dark spot, which was failing to gain Highwoods.
"However, apart from that we got everything we aimed for and we shall get cracking there next year."
New state of power on the council: Liberal Democrats 25 seats (+2), Conservatives 24 seats (no change), Labour 5 seats (+1), Tiptree and Wivenhoe Independent Group 3 seats (-1) and Independents 3 seats (-1).