County council elections round-up for North Herts
Deborah Price, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Archant
In North Herts – where there are nine county council seats – the Conservatives held on to five of the seven divisions they had held.
But they lost two seats – including Hitchin South, which had been held by executive member for growth, infrastructure, planning and the economy Cllr Derrick Ashley.
Conservatives Michael Muir (Baldock and Letchworth East), David Barnard (Hitchin Rural) and Richard Thake (Knebworth and Codicote) all kept their seats.
Conservative cabinet member Cllr Terry Hone (Letchworth South), executive member for community safety and waste management was also returned to County Hall.
And so was Fiona Hill (Royston East and Ermine) – whose result was the last in the county to be declared, just after 11pm on Saturday.
Leader of the county council’s Labour group Judi Billing held on to Hitchin North.
And she will now be joined by Labour candidate Tina Bhartwas, who won the Letchworth North seat, that had been held by Conservative Simon Bloxham. She won the contest with a majority of just 46 votes.
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Liberal Democrat Steve Jarvis kept hold of the Royston West and Rural division.
And it was fellow Lib Dem Paul Clark who took the Hitchin South seat that had been held by Cllr Ashley – by a margin of just 42 votes.
Meanwhile the Conservatives have retained their control of Hertfordshire County Council – but lost their leader in an election shock when Cllr David Williams lost his Harpenden seat to Lib Dem Paul De Kort.
All 78 seats on the county council were up for grabs. The Conservatives won 46 seats – which is three fewer than they held before, but still 14 more than the other parties put together.
Liberal Democrats took 23 seats – which is five more than before. And Labour’s seven elected councillors is now two fewer than previously.
The Green Party now have a voice on the county council , after Ben Crystall won All Saints Hertford.
Meanwhile Independent Jan Maddern also made it on to the county council – taking the Hemel Hempstead South East seat, which had been held by the Tories.
Conservative Cllr Teresa Heritage – who was deputy leader and is now interim leader of the county council – said: “I am very pleased that the people of Hertfordshire have put their faith in the Conservative Party to continue running Hertfordshire for the next four years.
“There were some disappointing results, but we are looking forward to continuing to deliver people’s local priorities.”
Overall the Conservatives lost 10 seats, but gained seven elsewhere – giving a net loss of three seats across the county.
Leader of the county council Liberal Democrat group Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst has also welcomed the results.
The Liberal Democrats lost two of their existing seats, but they made seven other gains – giving the a net gain on the county council of five seats.
And Cllr Giles-Medhurst says the results have strengthened their position as the official Opposition.
He says they are ‘extremely pleased’ to have made the gains, despite the ‘Boris bounce’ impacting on results across the country.
However he accepts he is disappointed with a number of ‘narrow losses’.
“We will hold the administration to account even more so from an invigorated and strengthened position,” he said.
He also highlights the hard work of Party members all year through, in keeping in touch with residents, listening to their concerns and dealing with issues.
Labour had hoped to increase on the nine county councillors they had in Hertfordshire.
But they lost five seats across the county in the May 6 elections and gained just three – leaving a net loss of two seats.
Leader of the Labour group on the county council, Cllr Judi Billing says she was “massively disappointed” to lose such talented councillors.
And she said: “We had obviously hoped – and expected – to have a larger group rather than smaller. This is terribly disappointing.”
Labour candidates gained two seats in Hertsmere divisions and one in North Herts. But they lost two seats in Welwyn Hatfield, as well as one in St Albans, one in Stevenage and one in Three Rivers.
In accounting for the losses, Cllr Billing points to the national trend and suggests national Labour Party messaging may have also played a part.