Labour feel squeeze
THE LABOUR party in North Herts blamed national events for the loss of five seats to the Conservatives in last Thursday s local elections. Following controversy involving three senior ministers in the national party, Labour candidates for North Herts Dist
THE LABOUR party in North Herts blamed national events for the loss of five seats to the Conservatives in last Thursday's local elections.
Following controversy involving three senior ministers in the national party, Labour candidates for North Herts District Council in Hitchin Walsworth, Codicote and Letchworth East, Grange and Wilbury wards lost their seats.
David Kearns, leader of the Labour group in North Hertfordshire, said:
"We're obviously disappointed with the results and I think it's fair to say that the party wasn't judged on local issues but on national issues."
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The results mean the Conservatives have increased their majority on the council from 28 to 33, while Labour now has nine seats.
Cllr Kearns, however, believes that the results do not signify a huge shift away from Labour.
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"If you look at the Labour vote compared to the last time these council seats were fought, in most cases there wasn't a massive swing away from the Labour party," he said.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, were keen to stress that although national events had helped, hard work also contributed to their election success.
Ken Needham, chairman of the Letchworth Conservative group, which now has councillors representing all five wards in the town, said: "We're absolutely thrilled to bits that we took all five seats. It's a thing we've been trying to do for years.
"Although it was helped by central government I'm not taking anything away from the hard work my team put in."
Liberal Democrats lost a seat in Letchworth South West to the Conservatives but won another from them in Royston, so their total number of seats remains the same at seven. A spokesman for North Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats said they were happy with the results. The spokesman added: "The results clearly show it is the Liberal Democrats who are the challengers to the Conservatives in the district."
The overall turnout was 38.8 per cent.