Essex Tories in control at county hall

A NEW four-year term of “adventurous” local government was heralded yesterday as Conservatives consolidated their grip on Essex politics with a resounding victory in the county council elections.

By Ted Jeory

A NEW four-year term of “adventurous” local government was heralded yesterday as Conservatives consolidated their grip on Essex politics with a resounding victory in the county council elections.

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council, said voters had given his administration a ringing endorsement to press ahead with changes to local services and he promised to bring government “closer to the people”.

His jubilant pledge was voiced as it became clear that the Tory “bluewash” of Essex, which began with the ousting of former Labour MPs in Braintree and Harwich in the General Election, had gathered unstoppable momentum, trouncing opponents in the party's all-conquering bid for County Hall.


You may also want to watch:


Although four seats are still to be declared in the Harlow where counting begins today, the Tories once again dominate Essex County Council.

They now control at least 51 of the 75 available seats, three more than the 48 they held at the time of Thursday's election.

Most Read

Labour have so far won 10, down eight from 18, while the Lib Dems have taken eight, three down on their previous 11. The independent parties have two seats.

The results represent a triumph for Conservatives and council leader Lord Hanningfield, who claimed the authority was “on its knees” when Tories took control in 2001.

Having fought high profile battles against the Labour Government on its controversial plans for massive increases in the county's housing stock and also the expansion of Stansted Airport, voters signalled a firm thumbs up to the Tory peer.

Yesterday, he said work would continue. “We've had four years to sort out the finances and now we've done that, we can now move on to really improving services.

“We've got an agenda that will make us the most adventurous county in the country. We will invest in roads, services for elderly people, schools and carry on from there.

“We have real scope for real change – the whole attitude to service provision will change.

“This has been a first class result for us and we'll be back at work on Monday ready to go.”

Paul Sztumpf, Labour group leader, said: “I would expect us to end up with 12 seats, which is disappointing. I would have hoped to have dented the Tory majority.

“I just hope that the Tories now have more regard to allowing their members more scrutiny over their policies.”

Ken Jones, who did not stand for re-election and so will hand over the Lib Dem group leadership this weekend, said: “I'm disappointed at how we've performed. I would've hoped for more seats.”

John Jowers, leader of Colchester Borough Council, was also elected into County Hall politics.

“I'm looking forward to the new challenge and developing close links between the borough and the county.”

He said he and borough colleagues would have to look at his workload before deciding whether he stays on as Colchester leader.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus