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'Stonker' of a night for Lib Dems at local polls

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The Liberal Democrats have gained control of nine councils, including six taken directly from the Conservatives. 

The party is up by 304 seats and overturned a previous Tory majority of seven to win control of Bath & North East Somerset Council, winning 37 of the 59 seats available - a gain of 23. On Chelmsford BC they gained 26 seats to win a majority of five.

Cotswold and Vale of White Horse DCs, Hinckley & Bosworth BC and Winchester City Council were also taken from the Tories while North Devon and North Norfolk DCs were gains from no overall control. 

The party also won the new Somerset West & Taunton Council with a majority of one. 

LGA Lib Dem group lead Howard Sykes told LGC the results were a refelection of strong campaigns on local issues, not the party’s Brexit position, pointing out the party had done well in both leave and remain voting areas. 

He said: ”It’s been a while since we have had a really good election night and this has been a stonker.

”It’s not patchy, it’s been pretty universal.”

Cllr Sykes held onto his seat on Oldham MBC, but Labour have kept control losing just one seat overall.

He said the win in Bath & North East Somerset was not a surprise as the party had been “working really hard in that area”. 

“It is down to discontent with the state of Westminster politics, but also down to the hard graft and people having local elections on local issues and this is good news for local government.”

One of the seats the Conservatives lost to the Lib Dems was the Mendip ward in Bath & North East Somerset, where prominent Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg lives.

The Lib Dems also won seats from the Bath and North East Somerset Council Leader and the St Albans Council Leader.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable said: “Our army of 100,000 members and 250,000 supporters have shown us to be the strongest campaigning force in local government, in Remain and Leave areas alike.

 “We are winning from leave voting Chelmsford to remain voting Cotswolds, gaining ground in rural England and cities too.

 “Today’s Lib Dem surge is a springboard to the European elections, where we are clearly the strongest Remain force on the ballot paper. Every Liberal Democrat vote on May 23rd will be a vote to stop Brexit.”

The Conservatives have so far lost 442 seats, and Labour are down 79. The Green Party is up 42 seats and other parties are up 229.

The big swing in favour of Lib Dems and independent parties tallies with the predictions of the LGA’s party representatives Lord Porter (Con), Howard Sykes (Lib Dem) and Marianne Overton (Independent Group) for LGC earlier this week. 

 

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