County Council Elections 2017

Local Election Results 2017County council elections took place across England on Thursday 4 May. Each of the Counties in Chelgate’s operating main areas have been listed below, with information on how the balance of power has changed following the elections.

Going in to the elections, the majority of the county councils in the south east with were Conservative-led. The much hyped ‘Lib Dem Fightback’ failed to materialise, despite a handful of Conservative councillors defecting to the Liberal Democrats in the weeks before the election over Brexit. UKIP fared particularly badly on Thursday night, losing every single seat it was defending (114 in total) however making one gain from Labour in the Lancashire town of Burnley.

In Surrey, the so-called ‘sweetheart deal’ where Council Leader David Hodge proposed a council tax hike to 15% (much to the anger of the opposition Liberal Democrats) appears to have had little effect on the Conservative party, who gained a seat from UKIP taking the total number of Conservative councillors in Surrey to 60 (out of a total of 81).

Perhaps unsurprisingly (given the party’s performance in opinion polls), Labour faced annihilation across the country, losing a total of 382 seats – almost unheard of for a party in opposition for seven years. In Essex, all four seats in Harlow went to the Conservatives. Looking towards the General Election next month, the formerly marginal Harlow is almost set to be an easy win for the Tories.




The Conservatives gained overall control in Norfolk from a hung council in the local elections, taking them to a total of 55 seats out of a possible 84. Labour gained 3 seats to take them to 17 seats – one of the few areas where the party made gains. Both UKIP and the Greens failed to get any of their candidates elected, losing 15 seats and 4 seats respectively.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came from Clenchwarton and Lynn South as Independent candidate Alexandra Kemp gained the seat from Labour, beating them into third place and polling almost double the number of votes than the Conservatives who finished second.

Gaywood North and Central saw the Conservatives’ Sheila Young comfortably gain the seat from UKIP. In Gaywood South, the Conservatives also gained – this time from Labour, whose candidate Margaret Wilkinson lost the seat by 99 votes.

The results are certainly interesting when considering what this could mean for the General Election on 8 June. The Labour held seat of Norwich South is considered a marginal – will incumbent Clive Lewis manage to hold on against the rising blue tide?

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                        +/-
Conservative 42  55                        +13
Labour 14  17                         +3
Liberal Democrat 10  11                         +1
UKIP 15  0                         -15
Green 4  0                         -4
Other 1  1                          –





The Conservative Party managed to take control of the Council in the elections on 4 May, as they gained 15 seats giving them 39 overall. The Council is still under the leadership of Councillor David Ellesmere, and the Cabinet has largely stayed the same, with only two new Members.

As Suffolk voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU in the recent referendum, it is no surprise that the Liberal Democrats have lost seats in this County. Suffolk was not targeted by the party, as their ‘soft’ Brexit rhetoric means that they are targeting seats where a high proportion of people voted to remain in the EU Referendum in June. Suffolk is a safe seat for the Tories, and it is likely that Conservatives will overwhelmingly win in the area in the General Election on 8 June.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                        +/-
Conservative 39  52                         +13
Labour 15  11                         -4
Liberal Democrat 7  5                         -2
UKIP 9  0                         -9
Green 2  3                         +1
Other 3  4                         +1




All 61 Councillors from 59 electoral divisions were up for election in Cambridgeshire on 4 May. The results in this County mirror the trend across most of the UK, and saw the Conservative Party gain 4 seats. This now means that they have overall control of the Council, where as previously no party had overall control. UKIP, who previously had 12 seats on the Council, lost each of them, showing the collapse of the party in the Council  and across the country.

Interestingly, the Labour Party actually gained one seat in these elections, which is contrary to their overall popularity across the country. They gained the seat in Castle District which was previously held by an Independent Councillor, however by a small margin of just 27 votes. Otherwise, they managed to retain their seats across the County.

This result also mirrors the result of the first ever Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayoral Elections.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                        +/-
Conservative 32  36                         +4
Labour 6  7                         +1
Liberal Democrat 13  15                         +2
UKIP 12  0                         -12
Green 0  0                          –
Other 2  3                          +1




All of the UKIP councillors in Essex lost all their nine seats, although one did keep his in Basildon Westley Heights, albeit now sitting as an independent.

The Conservatives increased their majority in the county taking 56 of the 75 seats (a more than comfortable 74.67 per cent) with the LibDems now the official opposition with seven seats and Labour with six.

The most significant change happened in Harlow where Labour lost all three of its members, with the Conservatives now holding all four seats. Chelgate’s own Michael Hardware became a member for Harlow West and his winning team were featured as the lead story on BBC Breakfast, BBC Six O’clock and Ten O’clock news the following day, as well as BBC News Channel throughout the day.

There was little change in Chelmsford with the city split with four Conservatives and three LibDems. Brentwood was the same with two of each party. Canvey Island has another residents association candidate and Chris Pond was re-elected in Loughton as an independent, although Loughton Residents’ Association.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                       +/-
Conservative 42  56                        +14
Labour 9  6                          -3
Liberal Democrat 9  7                          -2
UKIP 9  –                          -9
Green 2  1                          -1
Other 4  3                          +1




The results in Hertfordshire saw the Conservatives take a large majority, and gain 5 more seats than 2013. Labour have lost a large number of seats across the County. The Liberal Democrats have gained two seats. This mirrors the voting pattern across the country, where Labour are losing support, and many of their voters are defecting to the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

In St Albans, the Liberal Democrats held on to their seats. The Party has always had a strong following in the area, and, as predicted, due to the party’s increasing popularity across the country, they continued to dominate the St Albans area. St Albans voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the European Union, and their stance on Brexit links them to their affiliation with the Liberal Democrat Party. As the division councillors have not changed, the way in which we engage with the Local Authority will not change, and their general stances on planning and development are unlikely to have changed significantly.

In Welwyn Hatfield, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both won 3 seats, whilst Labour won 2. More specifically, in Hertford Rural ward, the Conservative candidate, Ken Crofton, won by a landslide, with 72% of the vote and a majority of 2571. The Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates achieved fairly similar results of 430 and 387 respectively. Surrounding this area are Haldens and Hatfield Rural wards.

Haldens has seen a shift in support, as the Liberal Democrats have gained a seat in this area, which was highly unexpected. They won 37.3% of the vote, making their majority 98, which was only 2.2% above the Conservative result. This is such a shock, as previously the Liberal Democrats only held 4.1% of the vote in this ward, and it was previously held by Conservative councillor Sara Johnstone.

Overall, the county elections went as expected, with the Conservatives making a few gains The results of this election are an indicator of the results that should be expected on 8 June, as they come at a convenient time for the political parties to judge which seats to target. As a result of the local elections we would expect Grant Shapps to hold on to his seat with an increased vote share.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                          +/-
Conservative 46  48                         +2
Labour 15  6                          -9
Liberal Democrat 16  12                         +4
UKIP 0  0                           –
Green 0  0                           –
Other 0  0                           –




All 81 Councillors from 72 electoral divisions were up for election on 4 May in Kent. The results in this county are a perfect example of the trend happening across the UK in the run up to the General Election on 8 June. The Conservative Party held on to their majority and gained a staggering 24 seats. All of these seats were won from UKIP and the Labour Party, where UKIP lost all 18 of their seats and Labour lost 6, leaving them with only 5 Councillors on the County Council. Ward boundary changes took effect in Kent at this election, which may have had some impact on the result. Although the general political climate suggests that the results may have been the same without these changes.

Ramsgate is the only district where the power is split between two parties in Kent. The two seats available in this division were won by Karen Constantine for the Labour Party, and Paul Joseph Messenger for the Conservatives.

These results bode well for the Conservative Party in the upcoming General Election on 8 June, where all Parliamentary constituencies in Kent are run by Conservative MP’s, and it is expected to stay that way after the next vote.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                       +/-
Conservative 43  67                       +24
Labour 11  5                        -6
Liberal Democrat 7  7                         –
UKIP 18  0                        -18
Green 1  1                         –
Other 1  1                         –


East Sussex


All Councillors were elected from each electoral division. The Conservative Party increased their majority by 8 seats, giving them overall control of the Council. As expected, both Labour and UKIP experienced losses and the Liberal Democrats gained 2 seats. It is interesting to look at the geography of the County, as the Liberal Democrat vote is mainly concentrated at the west of the County and the small labour vote is concentrated on the Eastern coast.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                      +/-
Conservative 20  22                       +2
Labour 7  4                        -3
Liberal Democrat 9  11                        -2
UKIP 8  0                        -8
Green 0  0                         –
 Other 4  5                        +1


West Sussex


The Conservative Party kept control of the County Council and gained 10 seats across the County, taking them from UKIP, who lost all 10 of their seats. The Liberal Democrats have re-established themselves as the main opposition in the County following UKIP being completely wiped out.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                         +/-
Conservative 45  56                         +11
Labour 6  5                          -1
Liberal Democrat 8  9                          +1
UKIP 10  0                         -10
Green 0  0                         –
Other 1  0                          -1




The Conservatives retained overall control of Hampshire County Council as expected, increasing the number of seats won from 45 to 56, largely at the expense of UKIP who lost all ten seats they were defending. Labour lost two of the four seats it was defending – losing Aldershot South to the Conservatives by just three votes.

John Bennison, standing for Community Campaign (Hart), was re-elected to Church Crookham & Ewshot division with an impressive 55% share of the vote, however the group failed to get their second candidate, Alan Oliver, elected. In Farnborough South, John Wall, who had held the seat since 2009 as a Conservative councillor, slipped into fourth place standing as an Independent. The seat was won by Conservative candidate Roland Dibbs, who won 47% of the votes cast.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in Hampshire was the success of the Liberal Democrats – increasing the number of seats won from 17 to 19. Adrian Collett was returned for an eighth term after securing a 60% share of the vote, leaving the Conservative candidate Shawn Andrew Dickens trailing well behind on 30%.

Given the strong performance of the Conservative party in the local elections, we expect a comfortable Conservative win here in the General Election next month.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                       +/-
Conservative 45  56                       +11
Labour 4  2                        -2
Liberal Democrat 17  19                        +2
UKIP 10  0                        -10
Green 0  0                         –
Other 2  2                         –




All 81 divisions of Surrey County Council were up for election on 4 May. The Conservative party have retained majority control of Surrey, increasing the number of seats held from 59 to 61 under the leadership of Councillor David Hodge. The main opposition in Surrey County Council continues to be the Resident’s Association/Independent group and the Surrey Opposition Forum. The Labour Party’s only Surrey Councillor, Robert Evans, has retained his seat. This suggests that the “Surrey Sweetheart Deal”, slammed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions, appears to not have dented the Conservatives’ electoral success in Surrey. Overall, this demonstrates that the Conservatives, who have recently been losing seats in a slow creep to local residents’ associations could well be claiming back this lost ground.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                      +/-
Conservative 59  61                        +2
Labour 1  1                         –
Liberal Democrat 9  9                         –
UKIP 3  0                        -3
Green 1  1                         –
Other 9  9                         –




As predicted, the Conservative Party held on to their majority in Buckinghamshire and gained 5 seats, bringing their total from 36 to 41. UKIP was previously the second largest party in the County, however they have now lost all their seats and have no representation on the County Council. Voters seem to have defected to the Conservative Party, which was as expected, and many of the seats previously held by UKIP Councillors are in Conservative hands now. The Liberal Democrats are now the second largest party, although they actually lost a seat in the election. They currently have 4 Councillors on the Council.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                     +/-
Conservative 36  41                      +5
Labour 1  1                       –
Liberal Democrat 5  4                       -1
UKIP 6  0                       -6
Green 0  0                       –
Other 1  3                       +2




All 63 councillors in 61 county divisions were up for election and the Conservative Party remain the largest single party on the Council, although with only 31 seats, they have just fallen short of a majority again. The main opposition on the council are the Liberal Democrats, who have 13 seats, an increase of two since 2013, they have replaced Labour as the second largest party on the council.

Although Labour losses are not unusual in the context of this year’s local election, Oxfordshire appears to be experiencing its own trend. In other elections, the Conservatives have increased the number of seats, but on Oxfordshire County Council, the number of seats held by the Conservatives has remained the same. Instead it is the Liberal Democrats who have won seats, bucking the trend across the country. This could be because the pro-EU messaging used by the Liberal Democrats in Oxford, which voted to remain in the EU referendum last year has had more cut through with the students and young people in the city.

Chelgate will monitor the make up of Oxfordshire County Council to see if Councillor Ian Hudspeth is able to hold on as leader and if so, how he makes up his cabinet. As the Conservatives do not have overall control of the council there is a possibility of a coalition administration.

Party Number of seats previously Number of seats now                     +/-
Conservative 31  31                       –
Labour 15  14                      -1
Liberal Democrat 11  13                      +2
UKIP 0  0                       –
Green 2  0                      -2
Other 4  4                       –


Mayoral Elections


The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority was established in March this year. The authority is led directly by the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, who was elected on 4 May. Mayoral elections will take place every four years, similarly to Council elections. The successful candidate was James Palmer from the Conservative Party. The result here was not surprising, considering the historical popularity of the Conservatives in this area, and their increased number of seats on the County Councils. The Liberal Democrat candidate, Rod Cantrill, came second, as the other parties were eliminated after the first round of voting.