St Albans local elections 2019: flashback to 2011 when Tories seized power in district

PUBLISHED: 09:45 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:45 03 May 2019

Robert Donald pictured in 2011 when the Lib Dems lost control of the district council.

Robert Donald pictured in 2011 when the Lib Dems lost control of the district council.


The last time St Albans district council saw such a sea change in its political make-up was back in 2011...

It has been eight years since the Liberal Democrats last held control of St Albans district council.

The election of May 5 2011 saw the party lose overall control of the council after the Conservatives gained five seats from the Lib Dems.

These gains gave the Tories 29 of 58 seats, with the Lib Dems dropping to 24 seats from 30.

The Green Party gained their first councillor in the form of Simon Grover, who took one of the two seats contested in St Peter's ward. The rest of the council was comprised of three Labour councillors and one Independent.

Following the election Conservative Julian Daly became the new leader of the council at the head of a minority administration. He was to remain leader until May 2017, when Alec Campbell took the reins.

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Cllr Daly said at the time how his expectation was that the Tories would have sufficient support for their policies: “I think that all the things I can see coming up there is majority support for whatever we can do.”

The two issues at the top of his group's agenda were the rebuilding of Westminster Lodge and the decision to turn the Maltings Arts Theatre into a digital cinema.

The new £24m Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre opened in November 2012, but the digital cinema proposal was rejected and Maltings Arts Theatre continues to this day.

Cllr Daly went on to form a cabinet made up of a majority of Harpenden councillors, although he pledged to represent the whole patch, claiming the previous cabinet was very St Albans-centric.

The 2011 result brought an end to the tenure of Lib Dem Robert Donald as council leader, having held the post for seven years while his party was in charge.

At the time he highlighted his party's achievements as holding down the district's proportion of council tax for the past three years, not building on and being robust in protecting the Green Belt, fighting the rail freight scheme for Park Street and reducing housing totals from 360 new homes annually to 250.

Cllr Donald told the Herts Ad: “My concerns would be that the Conservatives would try to under a lot of the policies we have implemented over the last few years.

“I accept changes of course but a wholesale reversal of policies would be extremely disruptive and would not serve residents well.”

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