Colchester Borough Council remains delicately balanced following the latest round of local elections that took place on Thursday.
The local Conservative group gained four seats from the LibDems. Labour held their three seats, and the Highwoods Indie group held their one seat that was up for election.
This leaves an overall composition of CBC that tallies:
9 Labour and
4 Highwoods Indie
The full list of results is available over here.
Although the Tories have the highest head count, they still haven’t got enough seats to form a majority administration.
It is expected that the Conservatives will consider approaching the Highwoods Indies when they hold their first new Group meeting on Saturday.
Cllr Dennis Willetts, the Leader of the local Tories told The Chronic that “significant differences” exist between his party the Indies. But he added that they are “the type of people that you would like to invite round for dinner.”
The Highwoods Indies split away from the LibDems after various policy fall-outs. It is unknown as to how liberal [small l] or even conservative [small c] the various personalities that make up the party actually are.
What is clear is that Cllr Willetts and his Conservatives are just four seats away from the magical number of 31 that would allow a majority administration to be formed.
The Highwoods Indies just happen to have those four seats.
Other options for a future CBC administration are available. The Tories could govern as a minority. This could potentially be damaging for the town with council basics such as passing a budget not being possible.
If the Highwoods lot don’t fancy doing a deal with the Tories then they could turn to the LibDems and Labour groups to form another broad coalition.
But the momentum in Colchester is certainly now with the Conservatives. The surprise election of Will Quince as the new Tory MP for the town was a sign of what to expect as the various politicos arrived at Charter Hall late on Friday afternoon for the count.
Minds and bodies were weary; some hadn’t slept since the General Election count finished in the same building only nine hours earlier.
CBC Chief Exec Adrian Pritchard was in no mood to hang around. He organised his staff to precision, calling the first ward of Wivenhoe Cross within ten minutes of the count taking place.
It soon became clear that the Conservatives sensed that they could take control. The four seats that they gained from the LibDems were Stanway, Christ Church, Mile End, and Castle.
The latter two victories mean that the new blood of Ben Locker and Darius Laws are now Borough Cllr’s. Full Council and Cabinet are about to get an awful lot more interesting…
But perhaps the overall theme over the past 24 hours at Charter Hall has been that of GLUM LIBDEMS.
We were almost tempted to try and get this trending locally on Twitter.
We heard whispers of how Cllr Paul Smith and Cllr Annie Feltham are both keen to step forward as the new faces of the LibDems in the town.
The only problem here is that they might not have much optimism within the Group to carry on the work that has already been achieved.
There was a feeling towards the final few months leading up to the election that this was a tired Cabinet. Ideas were pretty non-existent, and when they were there such as with the street traders, they were often very poorly thought through.
Plus don’t underestimate the cult of personality within local politics.
Sir Bob was the absolute lynchpin that generated enthusiasm and optimism within the group. The ex-MP put up a good showing in the early hours of Friday morning, but he knew that the game was up. His body language has clearly rubbed off on his foot soldiers.
But it’s not all over yet. It just means that the destiny of the LibDems locally is now out of their own hands.
The Highwoods Indies will have first dibs as to what type of administration will govern in Colchester before the ‘all out’ elections in twelve months time.
Time to see just how ‘liberal’ the Indie lot actually are.