The Somerset County Council elections have finally come to a close with tonights declaration of the result from the Coker Division near Yeovil. Previously held by the Lib Dems the result has seen a Conservative gain giving them a 3 seat final advantage on the County Council.
The Lib Dem vote dropped miserably by a third despite Lib Dims from all over the county flooding in to help desperately hold onto their seat -some of whom had given up midway through the evening having failed to get their ‘usual’ vote out and had gone to the pub.
The inevitable UKIP vote rose steaming in from nowhere despite not even running any campaign and on the day their grinning populist leader Farage got chased out of Edinburgh by angry Scots who weren’t for one minute taken in by his right wing tory nonsense.
The Green vote also dropped noticeably despite having stood in the ward 4 years ago.
The success story of the evening that gives any sort of hope for the future was Labour candidate Murray Shepstone flying the red flag in this corner of Somerset for the first time since 1935 and attracting almost 200 votes. Well done Murray!!
It might look like it, but the election isn’t over. Last Thursday, the Labour vote went up, the Tory and Lib Dem vote went down, and far-right UKIP came from nowhere to steal some shock successes. But only 54 of 55 chairs in County Hall have been filled. In Coker, South Somerset, the sudden death of a candidate has postponed the election until Thursday May 16th – and Labour’s Murray Shepstone, fighting to win, is passionately campaigning on local issues the other parties are happy to ignore.
It’s fitting that Somerset Labour’s most ambitious county campaign in history will end in a ward the party hasn’t contested since 1935 – and refreshed after a week’s break after the county-wide election, the party is throwing everything it has behind the Coker campaign.
Hugely important local decisions
Somerset-born Murray Shepstone spent twenty years working for Gloucester County Council, twenty years as a National Union of Public Employees (now UNISON) branch secretary, before going on to work for a social housing provider specialising in care for the elderly. Now Deputy-Chair of South Somerset Labour Party, and an East Coker resident for six years, Murray is determined to fight the election on hugely important local decisions the Lib Dems and the Tories are trying to brush under the carpet.
The Conservative Party has retained overall control of Somerset County Council but with a seriously reduced majority ( -7) on 28 seats and an increase in Labour (+1) 3 and Progressive Independent (+2) 2 seats . The Lib Dems have dropped (-3) their total of seats to 18 and the Far Right UKIP gaining (+3) a surprise 3 bringing the balance to 28-26.
The results are for 54 out of the 55 electoral divisions .The Coker division will be contested on 16 May due to the death of a candidate.
Overall turnout was: 35.6% (a decrease compared to 42% in 2009)
Lib Dem: 18
The Council Leader and Chairman will be elected at the next full council meeting which will take place on 21 May 2013.
Full results are:
Bishops Hull & Taunton West – Justine Baker, Liberal Democrat
Blackdown & Neroche – Ross Henley, Liberal Democrat
Blackmoor Vale – William Wallace, Conservative
Brent – John Denby – Conservative
Bridgwater East & Bawdrip – David Hall, Conservative
Bridgwater North & Central – Dave Loveridge, Labour
Bridgwater South – Leigh Redman, Labour
Bridgwater West – Ann Bown, Conservative
Brympton – Sam Crabb, Liberal Democrat
Burnham on Sea North – Peter Burridge-Clayton, Conservative
Cannington – John Edney, Conservative
Castle Cary – Mike Lewis, Conservative
Chard North – Nigel Pearson, UKIP
Chard South – Jill Shortland, Liberal Democrat
Cheddar – Dawn Hill, Conservative
Coker – (to be declared on 16th May)
Comeytrowe & Trull – Alan Wedderkopp, Liberal Democrat
Last nights Somerset County Council elections saw the Conservatives only just keep control with 28 seats to 26 opposition seats with one final seat to declare (the Lib Dem seat of Coker where the UKIP candidate died thus causing the election to be postponed until May 16th). Around the county a staggering rise in the Far Right anti-immigrant UKIP vote saw that party make 3 gains-Minehead, Chard North and Yeovil Central. Meanwhile 2 progressive independents won in Lydeard and Watchet while coalition partners in crime the Lib Dems and the Tories all fell back making the county now a feather away from being ‘hung’.
Labour Bridgwater draws the line against hate
However, it was in Bridgwater that the line for decency and common sense was drawn, fought for and won by Labour , thanks to a hard working campaign team in and around the town and the honest voters who did the right thing and said ‘No’ to the hollow promises and hateful campaign of the far right.
in Bridgwater North and Central, experienced Labour campaigner and soon to be Mayor of the town Dave Loveridge trounced his Tory and Lib Dem opponents to retain his seat with an increased majority. Dave won with 700 votes to Conservatives 246 and Lib Dems 147 increasing his majority by more than 200.
In Bridgwater South town and district Councillor Leigh Redman fought and won a nose to nose battle with Tory grocer Lance Dudderidge to grab the seat from the Conservatives with a sensational win by 959 votes to 576 setting the Labour majority at around 500.
In Bridgwater East and West the Tories held onto their seats but with much reduced majorities and with UKIP grabbing votes across the board.
In Bridgwater West, sitting Tory Ann Bown had her majority slashed by 300 in a result that saw Labour’s Richard Hampson come third behind the UKIP candidate. The Conservatives were down to 715 votes against UKIP 541 Labour 463 and Lib Dem marginalised at 134 (another drop for the coalition this time of around 300 votes)
In Bridgwater East , which included the recently added Conservative leaning villages of Bawdrip and Weston Zoyland, Barbara O Connor was only 200 votes behind Tory cabinet member David Hall whose majority was hauled back by some 400 votes yet was deprived from victory and even second place by the 610 strong UKIP ‘vote from nowhere’, achieved without any campaigning other than the national media hype. The Conservatives clung on with 717 UKIP floating to the surface with 610 Labour up over 100 to 493 while Lib Dems collapsing by 300 to 113.
In total Labour had triumphed in Bridgwater with the following tally.
Lib Dem 396
Bridgwater returns 2 Labour and 2 Tory councillors now to County and the people that made the right choice, to get out there, vote for local hard working Labour candidates and say no to the divisive hate campaign of the far right UKIP, can be rightly proud of themselves today as the country wakes up to the smug face of the banker Farage and his unvetted shower of headline hitting scaremongers.