Mixed results across the south east

By Michael HardwareDirector of Planning and Property

The Conservatives had a good night generally in the south east last Thursday, although tempered somewhat by growing support for the LibDems, the Greens and for resident candidates, all perhaps an indication of future trends. Labour had an excellent night in London. 

Labour did very well in London with both the re-election of Sadiq Khan, the Labour London Mayor, and Labour taking 11 of the 25 London Assembly seats. 

In Maidstone, Kent, the council moved from no overall control to a Conservative majority. The Conservatives lost control of Tunbridge Wells council for the first time since 1998. Kent County Council continues to be Conservative-led but with a smaller majority. The Labour group leader, Dara Farrell, lost his seat in Ashford but Labour also made gains in Canterbury North, Folkstone and Dartford. The LibDems gained Canterbury South and Sevenoaks Town. The independents won in Swale West and the Greens won in Swale East and Tonbridge. 

Hertfordshire saw few surprises with Broxbourne, East Hertfordshire, Hertsmere, North Hertfordshire, Stevenage and Welwyn Hatfield all seeing results dominated by Conservative wins. Whereas St Albans, Watford and Three Rivers saw bigger wins for the Liberal Democrats. The county elections saw the Conservatives maintain power despite losing five seats with the LibDems gaining four. 

St Albans, which has been on a political knife-edge for some years, saw the LibDems take overall control of the council, having led with a minority administration for the last two years. The party made gains in the traditional Tory area of Harpenden with Labour’s support collapsing across the district.  

Essex was certainly on the crest of a blue wave with Harlow and Basildon returning to Conservative control. Thurrock and Rochford remained under the Conservatives together with Castle Point but with a majority reduced from two to just one. Southend and Colchester stay under no overall control. 

Basildon returned to Conservative control again: it has changed hands in each of the last four elections. The party gained four seats to overcome the previous Labour Independent alliance, with Cllr Gavin Callaghan stepping down as council and Labour leader dramatically during the count. 

Harlow saw a 24 per cent swing to the Conservatives wiping out a seven-seat Labour majority winning 12 out of the 13 seats up for election on the evening. It is the first time the Conservatives have been in power in nine years, and only the second time in the town’s history, it had been led by Labour for 38 of the last 48 years. 

Essex County Council saw the Conservatives maintain its control, but lost seats to residents groups in the north of the county. The non-aligned members together are now looking to become the official opposition as it has more seats than the LibDems and Labour.