Brentwood, 6.59am: 5°C, mist

Local elections: Conservatives hold Brentwood, Lib Dem celebrate gains

Phoenix FM’s Dave Chitty spoke to outgoing council leader Louise McKinlay along with winning candidates Andrew Fryd (Lib Dems), Maria Pearson (Con) and Tim Barrett (Lab). Click here to listen to the interviews:

CONSERVATIVE HOLD: Con 20 (-5), LD 13 (+4), Lab 3 (+1), Ind 1 (-).

The Conservative have held Brentwood Borough Council but lost 5 seats to reduce their majority from 13 to 3, with 2017/18 mayor Will Russell one of the casualties.

Borough elections were held on Thursday 2nd May in 12 of the Council’s 15 wards. Voters were seeking just the one candidate in each of the wards to represent them.

The vast majority of those seeking election represented the three major parties but there were also candidates from the Green Party and UKIP.

A rather overcast day saw polls open at 7am and turnout across the local region was low. This was also represented in the national picture, with elections taking place in other council areas across England. It would prove to be an interesting test for the Conservative party hopefuls, who were desperately trying to cling onto local support despite the ongoing problems at central party.

There were plenty of nerves in the count hall at around 11pm, when the count finally got under way. And much wonder how the grassroots politics would be affected by the wider issues their national party colleagues were facing at this current time was also present.

Conservative group leader and current council leader Louise McKinlay, who was not seeking election, was there to oversee her party’s efforts. The other story affecting her at this current time is her imminent departure from the leader’s position, one that she has held for the last 10 years. Who would gain enough support from tonight’s vote to be consider as her successor?

The main theme from the candidates was the ever-present Brexit issues and separation of their respective party’s national image when they faced the local voting public of Brentwood. And the voting public certainly provided an interesting shift in the make up of the local council.

The overall picture saw Conservatives with 6 elected candidates, Lib Dem with 5 and Labour with 1.

Closer look at some of the Lib Dem gains saw a pretty much one side affair in Pilgrims Hatch, where the winning candidate, Vicky Davis took 1062 votes, to the Conservatives’ 313 and Labour’s 111. Wins for the Lib Dems also took place in Brentwood North, Brentwood West, Shenfield and Warley.

The Lib Dems celebrated with gains for Andrew Fryd in Shenfield, Mark Lewis in Brentwood North, Jay Laplain in Warley and Sarah Cloke in Brentwood West, who defeated Will Russell – mayor of Brentwood in 2017/18 who had held his seat for eight years.

The Conservatives held on to seats in Brizes and Doddinghurst, Herongate, Ingrave and West Horndon, Hutton East, Hutton North, Ingatestone, Fryerning and Mountnessing and Tipps Cross.

Tim Barrett gained a seat in Brentwood South from the Conservatives.

As the results came in for the Lib Dems, each was met with an ever-increasing cheer. The Conservative support was mixed – they still retain a majority. But the Lib Dems are looking forward to providing robust opposition when the business of the council chambers starts again.

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