Lib Dem leader promises humility in face of crushing victory over Conservatives

St Albans district council leader Chris White now has a huge majority.

St Albans district council leader Chris White now has a huge majority. - Credit: SADC

Accountability and humility will be at the heart of the district council's new administration - after the Lib Dems wiped out Tory opposition in a savage political bloodbath.

The vote in last week's elections saw a staggering 50 Liberal Democrat councillors elected out of a total of 56 - leaving the Conservatives with just four members, plus one Green and one Independent - one of the most remarkable results in the country.

Speaking exclusively to the Herts Advertiser, triumphant leader Chris White said he would honour the sacred trust between his party and the electorate.

"The results of the district council elections, as always with such elections, reflected a number of factors. There was clear support on the doorsteps for what we were doing at the council and a rejection of the alternatives.

"There were also astonishing levels of anger with the Conservatives at a national level as well as huge support for [St Albans MP] Daisy Cooper, even outside her own constituency.

"The Lib Dem group is now larger than it has ever been and this immediately calls for humility. Many did not vote for us and we will not overlook them. There are also massive challenges ahead of us, not least the inflation levels which will provide yet more challenges to local government finance.

"We will be looking to set up new ways of being accountable to the voters. We believe that politics in the district can now be more constructive and civilised with the departure of some of the key players and the rejection of Trump-style politics.

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"It's a sacred trust: we will live up to it and get on with tackling the climate emergency, the shortage of social housing and improving the services and facilities the council provides to the community."

Among the casualties of the election were Tory leader Mary Maynard and long-term councillor Richard Curthoys, who offered his thoughts on the result.

"For the Lib Dems to delude themselves that they are on their way to serious national political power is laughable. All governments experience mid-term unpopularity and in England people were rightly upset with events well beyond the control of local politicians and chose to express that with a protest vote.

"We now have a council with no scrutiny and no local planning committees both of which were scrapped by the Lib Dems with the blessings of the current Green and Independent councillor who effectively shored up the last administration. I am sure they will be rewarded for their loyalty by Cllr White in this administration. 

Richard Curthoys is one of several Tory councillors to have lost their seat.

Richard Curthoys is one of several Tory councillors to have lost their seat. - Credit: Archant

"As for the good people of St Albans City and District, I say brace yourselves for city centre road closures, hikes in council tax charges and the very real prospect of a journey towards council insolvency, which due to their obsession with secrecy will no doubt not be made public until they can find someone else to blame. I'm sure a well-meaning council officer may have the sense to 'blow the whistle.'

"For the new Lib Dem councillors, I hope your shelf life is longer than previous Liberal Democrats who have found that evening meetings and events at week-ends are all too much effort and either constantly leave meetings early or resign. You signed up to do it, you got elected, It’s an honour to serve your community as a councillor, so make sure you do."