Lib Dems out to 'make a difference' as they break Tory grip on town and district councils
National politics and air pollution helped push Bishop’s Stortford’s Liberal Democrats back onto the town and district councils.
A bruising result for the Conservatives in last week's local elections across the country was reflected in the polling in Stortford, with the loss of prominent Tory councillors like former mayors Keith Warnell – who was also chairman of East Herts Council – and Colin Woodward.
Stortford voters elected four of the six Lib Dems who now sit on the district council.
New Stortford Meads ward councillor Cllr Mione Goldspink, chairman of the Bishop’s Stortford branch of the party, said after last Thursday’s breakthrough: “It was an excellent night for us and for Liberal Democrats across the whole country.
“We are very grateful to everyone who voted for us and would like to say a great big thank you for so much support.”
Cllr Chris Wilson, who received most votes for a district council seat in All Saints ward, highlighted air quality at Hockerill crossroads during his campaign and said: “I'm going to work tirelessly to try to address the concerns I heard from so many to whom I spoke on the doorstep. I know my colleagues and I are determined to make a difference in their lives wherever possible.”
After their clean sweep of all 50 East Herts Council seats in 2015, the Tories now have 40, the Lib Dems six and Labour and the Green Party two each.
The town council, solidly Tory before Thursday, now has 11 Conservatives, five Lib Dems and one Labour member.
While there are nine new faces on the 17-seat town council, veteran Lib Dems Mike Wood – a Herts county councillor between 1985 and 1989, a district councillor from 1991 to 2015 and a town councillor from 1987 to 2015 – and fellow former Stortford mayor Cllr Bob Taylor have decades of experience.
Cllr Wood, 74, said: “I'm extremely happy to be back and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the team. I'm especially elated to get the highest vote of anybody in Stortford – that’s one for the record books!”
Cllr Alastair Ward-Booth, a Conservative who stepped up from town to district council in Stortford Silverleys ward, said: “The local elections on May 2 were a bad night for the Conservatives nationally as many voters focused on Brexit rather than the delivery of local services.
"Here in East Herts we retained 40 of the 50 district council seats, as well as control of Bishop’s Stortford, Hertford and Ware town councils. We believe this was because Conservatives locally have a strong reputation for delivering good local services while keeping council tax low."
Labour's sole success in Stortford was the election in Meads ward of Jill Sortwell to the town council.
Thomas Diamond (646 votes) and Sotirios Adamopoulos (644) came close to being elected to the town council in Central, finishing 20 and 22 votes behind fourth-placed Lib Dem Bob Taylor (666). Otherwise, Labour candidates finished bottom in all five wards.
The Green Party’s three district and town council candidates in Stortford failed to make a breakthrough, though Lucy Downes beat three Lib Dems and four Labour opponents in Stortford South for the town council.
UKIP had targeted Stortford with its only three district council candidates, but they trailed in last with just 646 votes between them.