Labour heralds 'councils with more diversity than for decades' in East Herts
Following the Indie's month-long coverage of the May 2 local election campaign for town and district councils in Bishop's Stortford, we asked the parties to reflect on their performances and look to the future after a vote which saw the Conservatives' absolute control of the town council reduced from all 18 seats in 2015 to 11 this time, with 5 Lib Dems and 1 Labour member. On East Herts Council, there are 40 Conservatives, 6 Lib Dems, 2 Labour and 2 Green Party after the Tories' 2015 50-seat clean sweep was consigned to history. In Stortford, Labour's only breakthrough was in Meads ward, where Jill Sortwell took a seat.
Labour's Hertford and Stortford constituency party chairman, David Jacobs, who stood unsuccessfully for both town and district councils, said: "The Labour Party would like to thank all our supporters, campaigners and not least the electorate of Bishop's Stortford for your support during this campaign.
"Obviously the results are disappointing for the party, but there were some highlights, not least the election of Jill Sortwell for Meads ward. Jill has been a stalwart for the party for many years and will bring a huge amount of experience to the town council.
"Elsewhere, Labour made further breakthroughs, with two councillors elected to Hertford Town Council and a further two councillors elected to East Herts Council.
"We would also like to thank the staff of East Herts Council for their professionalism in conducting the ballot and the count, and their ability to keep counting late into the night. We would like to thank all outgoing councillors for their hard work and wish them luck in their future endeavours.
"Reflecting on these results, there was clearly a strong appetite for change among the electorate. The Liberal Democrats and Greens also received a lot of support, not least in All Saints ward.
"Each party will want to 'spin' these results in their favour. The Liberals will claim this was a vote against Brexit – although the extraordinary number of spoilt papers tells a different story. Turnout was low, although not as low as some had predicted.
"The Labour Party's view is that we asked the voters to end the one-party state that Bishop's Stortford and East Herts had become, and they delivered a council with more diversity than we have seen for several decades.
"The challenges facing these newly-elected councillors cannot be understated. We hope that the re-elected Conservative majority do not take this level of support – some 40% of a 30% turnout – as an endorsement of their plans for Bishop's Stortford South and Old River Lane, and that they take this opportunity to take stock of these damaging and risky developments and think again."