Candidates’ reactions as ‘Conservative wave’ sweeps Lincolnshire local election

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Candidates across all parties but the Conservatives are counting their losses following the Lincolnshire County Council elections on May 4, with some blaming a ‘disproportional voting system’ for their defeat.

Lincolnshire Tories have made significant gains, reflecting a national trend, picking up local authority seats where Labour councillors once sat and benefitting from a total wipeout of UKIP.

The new makeup of the council with the reduction to 70 seats due to recent boundary changes.

The LCC balance of power prior to the vote on May 4. (77 seats)

The Conservatives regained majority of the council with 53.35% of the overall vote.

Labour finished in second place with six seats, four Independents were elected and Liberal Democrats and Lincolnshire Independents each had a councillor elected.

UKIP lost every seat it held on the county council.

Rob Parker – Labour and Co-operative

Labour candidate Robert Parker. Photo: Lincolnshire Reporter

Veteran Labour councillor Rob Parker, who retained his seat in the Carholme ward of Lincoln with 1,593 votes, noted the closeness of figures and stated Labour still remained the official opposition.

Labour made a net loss of almost 200 council seats nationally and its presence on Lincolnshire County Council was halved.

Rob said: “Despite Labour polling 8,566 votes in Lincoln, over 11% more votes than the Conservatives, the two parties both returned four councillors.

“Labour candidates Geoff Ellis in Hartsholme and Jackie Kirk in Ermine and Cathedral fell just short by less than less 25 votes of their Conservative opponents. With Labour’s Charmaine Morgan in Grantham polling only 13 votes less than the winning canidate it was a case of what might have been.

“So instead of returning nine councillors as might have been the case we now have six. Better of course than UKIP who lost all the 16 seats won in 2013, and better than the Liberal Democrats and the Lincolnshire Independents both getting just one councillor elected.

“It was a disappointing night for Labour.

“So what does it all mean? Well it looks as if Labour will remain the official opposition party to the Conservatives at County Offices. That means we will be working to hold them to account on policies and spending through effective scrutiny.

“We will also be working hard on the council to promote and protect the interests of not just the people we were elected to serve as individual councillors but the wider Lincolnshire public.

“The Conservatives now have an overwhelming majority on the County Council and Labour councillors will do everything possible to make sure that such power is not abused. We are ready and able to take on that responsibility.”

Nick Smith – UKIP

Nick Smith. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Eagle and North Hykeham candidate for UKIP Nick Smith, who received the fewest votes (153) in his ward suggested the results may be indicative of how the county will be voting in the June general election.

Nick, whose wife Jane Smith also lost her seat in the Lincoln St Giles ward as party’s first elected county councillor, told Lincolnshire Reporter:

“We’re obviously disappointed, but this is another example where the proportional representation system would benefit us. Lots of people voted for UKIP. If you look at it, 50% of people voted for the Tories, but they got 80% of the seats on the council.

“It was disappointing to see the Tories doing their Emperor’s new clothes trick of saying ‘give us all your votes and we’ll do something for you’. But they’ve not said what.

“The vote may be a reflection of how people are planning to vote in June. I don’t trust Theresa May, her record on immigration is terrible.

“The election was called for the benefit of the Conservatives and I’m amazed Labour agreed to it. I think they did it because they want to use it as an excuse to get rid of Corbyn.

“This is UKIP’s first setback in a decade and if you look at Lincoln’s performance that’s down, but that’s okay.”

Ross Pepper – Liberal Democrats

Ross Pepper. Photo: Lincolnshire Reporter

Liberal Democrats candidate Ross Pepper, who came in joint second with Lincolnshire Independents with 282 votes in Eagle and Hykeham said: “It was a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats in Lincolnshire overall, however we did make a gain in the Gainsborough Hill with Matt Boles being elected. I would like to congratulate him on his win.

“Commiserations to Lesley Rawlings who lost her seat in Scotter Rural. I am sure that she will continue fighting for the community she has served in the years to come.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our councillors who stood down at this election; Reg Shore, Pat O’Connor and John Marriott. They have served their local areas with grace and honour over many years and I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

“The Conservative wave that has swept across the country overnight was very noticeable in Lincolnshire. They have certainly benefitted from the collapse of UKIP but also a weak Labour vote.

“The Lib Dem share of the vote went up across the county compared to 2013 when these seats were last fought, but it was not strong enough to stem the Conservative tide.

“Personally, the results show again the need for a proportional system of voting.

“The Conservatives received 53% of the vote but have 83% of the seats on the council. Continuing to have a system that ignores the view of nearly half the population of the county is not democratic and does switch people off from the democratic process.

“I am sure over the next four years that we will see the continued programme of sweeping cuts from the Conservative administration – now let loose with a massive majority. I hope that the councillors elected will listen to their electorate and that the public will be vocal on issues they feel the council are doing wrong. The Lib Dems will continue to be there for people who feel they are not represented at County Hall.”

ALSO SEE: Martin Hill’s reaction after Conservatives regain overall control of the county council.

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