Across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc the local council elections have coincided with the creation of three new authorities and a surprise or two in Oxfordshire. DevComms director Maria Allaway has taken a snapshot of the key outcomes.
In Oxfordshire, a shocking result emerged from the county council elections in which the Conservatives lost nine seats including the Woodstock seat belonging to the Conservative leader of the council, Ian Hudspeth, who had led the council since 2012.
His seat was taken by LibDem challenger, Cllr Andy Graham.
The council remains in no overall control and we wait to hear if Labour’s legal challenge of the result in the Banbury Ruscote ward, in which Labour unexpectedly lost a seat to the Conservatives and where the council reported an ‘administrative error in the count’ is successful. If the result is overturned, that will see the Conservatives and the Lib Dems on 21 seats each.
Over the weekend, we understand that the Conservatives and LibDems have both been in talks with the Labour group to form a coalition to lead the council.
It is possible that dissatisfaction with Local Plans and kickback from the Expressway debacle has influenced the election results for the county.
Elsewhere in the county, the political balance of Cherwell District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council did not change with the Conservatives comfortably remaining in control.
At Oxford City Council, Labour maintains its hold of the city council, conceding three seats to the LibDems, Green Party and independents. Labour Leader, Cllr Susan Brown, retained her seat.
As reported in last week’s Thames Tap, the Conservatives gained control of Buckinghamshire Council in its inaugural election.
Leader of the council prior to the election, Cllr Martin Tett, retained his seat and was re-elected as group leader. Cllr Angela McPherson, former leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, is reported to have been elected as deputy leader alongside Cllr Gareth Williams. Cabinet positions will be announced at the full council meeting on May 26.
Milton Keynes Council remains under no overall control with the Conservatives the only party to make gains in last week’s election; both Labour and the LibDems lost seats. Despite this, Labour and the LibDems agreed a coalition to lead the council, previously run by a minority Labour administration.
In April, local government reorganisation in Northamptonshire saw the county council and the seven districts – Wellingborough, Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton and South Northamptonshire combine to form two new authorities: West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire Councils.
The Conservatives comfortably took control of both authorities in their inaugural elections.
However, it has been reported that in a somewhat surprising turn of events, Cllr Ian McCord who was standing for the position of Leader of West Northamptonshire and widely tipped to win was suspended from the party ahead of the leadership vote. Cllr Jonathan Nunn was subsequently elected as Leader. North Northamptonshire is yet to confirm who the leader of the council will be.
In Peterborough, whilst the election produced solid results for the Conservatives, long standing leader of the council and local politician for over 40 years, Cllr John Holdich OBE, chose to retire rather than contest his seat.
In another surprise result for the region, the Labour candidate, Nik Johnson, won the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral election, beating the incumbent Conservative mayor, James Palmer.
Even Nik Johnson expressed his ‘shock’ at the result. This result may be seen as a rejection of Mr Palmer’s headline policies, which included the Cambridge Autonomous Metro and the £100,000 homes scheme which now seems set to come to an end.
Take a look at our ‘slider’ map which shows the ‘before and after’ results of the elections across the Arc. This includes highlighting local government reorganisation in Northamptonshire.
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