County council leader unseated in shock result
Deborah Price, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: St Albans Lib Dems
In St Albans district the shock result of the election was the failure of county council leader Cllr David Williams to hold on to his Harpenden North East seat – losing to Lib Dem Paul De Kort by just 41 votes.
It was the only county council seat in the St Albans area that the Conservatives lost.
As a result of other gains and losses, the Conservatives still hold four of the 10 county council seats decided in St Albans. But the Liberal Democrats now hold six – with Labour no longer having a single seat.
Until the election four of the 10 county council seats in the St Albans area had been held by the Conservatives, four by the Lib Dems, one by Labour and one by Independent Roma Mills, formerly a Labour councillor who did not stand in this election.
Deputy county council leader Cllr Teresa Heritage held Harpenden South West in the May 6 election. Cllr Annie Brewster held Harpenden Rural. Stella Nash held on to the St Stephen’s seat, that had been held by Sue Featherstone.
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And the London Colney seat – that had been held by Labour councillor Dreda Gordon – was taken by Conservative Sarah Tallon.
But it was the Liberal Democrats who made the county council gains in St Albans – increasing their presence from four seats to six.
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As well as gaining Harpenden North East, Liberal Democrat candidates – all sitting county councillors – held on to Colney Heath and Marshalswick, St Albans Central, St Albans East and St Albans South.
And Liberal Democrat Helen Campbell also took the St Albans North seat, which had been vacated by Cllr Roma Mills.
All 78 seats on the county council were up for grabs in the election.
Overall 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 less than before.
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.
Conservaitve 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.
Meanwhile 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 – giving them a total of 23 county council seats – 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.
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 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.
Nevertheless she says Labour county councillors will ‘re-group’ – and still expect to be ‘punching above our weight’.