Mainstream party leaders have placed a lot of the blame for their performance squarely on the head of the national Brexit debate this morning.
The overnight election saw the Conservatives retain the lead, but take some hits, with North Kesteven District Council for instance reverting to no overall control.
However, they weren’t the only ones unsuccessful in fending off opponents, as North East Lincolnshire turned Tory blue overnight.
For a full list of winners and losers click here.
“The opponent we faced wasn’t in the room”
Conservative Leader of North Kesteven District Council Richard Wright said despite being fearful of the Brexit backlash, he had been surprised by the scale of it.
He told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines: “It’s a real pity the opponent we faced wasn’t in the room. The national issue was the voters target, not our track record.”
He said he had been pleased to get the councillors he did despite anger at the Government handling of the Brexit debate nationally but added: “I was disappointed at some of the real quality councillors and candidates we didn’t get over the line.”
Councillor Wright was not however put off by the increase in independent councillors on North Kesteven District Council, pointing to the fact his opposition was not one whole group.
“The Conservative group is still the biggest on the council at the present time,” he said, denying the independents had taken control.
He said the next step would be to take stock and move forward.
Westminster leaders “take heed”
Westminster MPs have been urged to take note of lost Conservative seats, spoilt papers and low turnout following this morning’s local election results.
With all but East Lindsey District Council having announced their results, Chairman of the Lincolnshire Conservative Association Martin Hill felt that in the context of the party’s success four years ago, “some losses were expected” but he said he was delighted the numbers had “held up reasonably in a lower turnout”.
He paid tribute to the hard work of the candidates and the “efficiency and effectiveness” of his party’s local administration.
However, he added: “There were many spoilt ballot papers and some anger on the doorstep about the national political situation which has caused some losses including North Kesteven.
“I would urge colleagues in Westminster to take note of the concerns across the county and country.”
Rise of independents will force a change in leadership style
Lincolnshire Independents leader Councillor Marianne Overton has claimed the rise of independent candidates in areas such as North Kesteven will force mainstream parties to take a different approach to their leadership.
She said ‘broken politics with not enough listening’ were partly to blame.
She added: “We have talented new councillors from all walks of life who have fought and won the right to represent our communities.”
She also praised the rise in independents across the county, and as part of the Independents Network said: “We are determined to have Independent representatives rooted in local communities, listening locally and taking action at all levels to support our local communities.
“Now [the mainstream parties] will have to rely on leadership that brings people together by consensus,” she said.
Labour “devastated” by North East Lincolnshire loss
North East Lincolnshire former cabinet member councillor Matthew Pattrick said he was “devastated” by the number of votes which saw his party ousted from power.
He praised his opponents for “fighting well for this election” and congratulated them, but said he had fears over the future of services – particularly for vulnerable people.
He, like others, said one of the obvious factors was the Brexit debate, which he said had had a “huge impact” on the party locally.
“Brexit seems to have dominated a lot of the elections one way or another and to a certain extent we were a victim of that,” he said.
“A lot of excellent Labour councillors have had to pay the price for that.”
However, he added that the now-opposition group needed to sit down and “have a very long discussion about the way the public perceives us and start to rebuild trust and confidence”.
He said that the council had experienced a difficult eight years, and that there was “a concern the public perceive the problems were caused by the former Labour administration”.
Renewed vigour and encouragement for Lincoln Labour
City of Lincoln council’s Labour leader Ric Metcalfe said he was delighted by last night’s results, which saw his party score ten-out-of-ten.
“You can’t get any better than that. It was a very good result,” he said.
“We thought the national cross-winds might affect our vote and obviously there are signs some protest votes when to smaller parties, but that’s not surprising when there’s a general dissatisfaction,” he added.
Councillor Metcalfe expressed sympathy with Labour members elsewhere who had not faired as well, including North East Lincolnshire Council, but said his colleagues had been “able to stand on a solid record of achievements. We have the advantage of incumbents and people know and trust us.”
Asked what it meant for the council going forward, he said the result had given them “renewed confidence” that they were “going in the right direction”.
Lib Dems happy with “increased support”
Lincoln candidate Oliver Craven, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, who were voted into 18 seats overnight despite his personal loss, said his party were “delighted” with the results.
“Despite the trend of a reduced local election turnout nationally, it actually increased in one of our hardest fought target wards, demonstrating that voters are receptive to candidates who are willing to work hard to serve them locally,” he said.
“Voters seem to increasingly support our message of protecting key public services while reducing wasted spending.”
Greens sprout “respectable results”
Despite gaining no seats, representatives from the Green Party were also happy.
Gerhard Lohmann-Bond said the results ranged from “respectable to remarkable”.
“The election in Lincoln was clearly dominated by a straight fight between Labour and the Conservatives, but Greens nevertheless took between 9.2-16.7% of the vote,” he said.
“Spalding Greens achieved their best result ever, with one of their candidates narrowly missing out on creating an upset.
“Overall the Green vote held up well in Lincolnshire with the party’s overall share of the vote continuing its upward trend in line with results from the rest of the country.”
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