Stevenage Borough Council: Labour maintains council control, Mayor loses seat and party leader reactions

Stevenage's party leaders: Conservative Phil Bibby, Labour Sharon Taylor and Lib Dem Robin Parker

Stevenage's party leaders: Conservative Phil Bibby, Labour Sharon Taylor and Lib Dem Robin Parker - Credit: HCC

Over the weekend votes were counted and verified for the borough council election, where 14 of the council's 39 seats were up for election. 

Although Labour has maintained control of Stevenage Borough Council, the party has lost six seats, five of them to the Conservatives and one to the Lib Dems.

The new make-up of the council now consists of 11 Conservative seats, 22 Labour and six Lib Dem.

Stevenage's current Labour mayor, Jim Brown, lost his seat in the Old Town ward to Conservative candidate John Duncan, meaning he will no longer be able to hold his mayoral position.

Speaking on Saturday, leader of the opposition Cllr Phil Bibby said: "I am delighted with the election results today, and thank all candidates for their hard work and commitment. Those unsuccessful will no doubt be disappointed, but I wish to express appreciation for their contribution to our campaign.

"Our numbers have increased on the borough council, with a significant swing over the past 10 years meaning that there are now 11 Conservative councillors as the main opposition. While there were clearly controversial local issues at play, such as the Old Town free parking and the Forster Country development, it is clear that, in general, the electorate is happy with how the Conservative government is performing.

"At this stage of the current administration, it would not have been unusual for local election results to have gone in the opposite direction."

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Lib Dem leader Robin Parker said: “Despite being largely ignored by the local media, and the deceitful and duplicitous leaflets circulated by the local Conservative party, Stevenage Liberal Democrats are extremely grateful to our voters for keeping faith with us and enabling us to make progress yet again.

“Julie Ashley-Wren gained the final Labour seat in Chells Ward and Graham Snell easily held his Manor Ward seat – so we now hold all the seats in Chells and Manor, giving us six seats in total on SBC. The Lib Dems have always made the running at SBC in terms of scrutiny of the Labour majority and, with more seats, we will be able to expand this check on Labour.”

“We were very disappointed – after a lot of hard work over the last three years by Jill Brinkworth – to miss Martins Wood Ward by a slim margin again.

“My personal thanks must also go to the voters of Chells division for returning me for the fifth time to HCC, where I will continue to represent all their interests on highways, pensions and much more.”

Labour leader and leader of the council Sharon Taylor said: "Stevenage Labour are sorry to have lost two of our long-serving councillors, Jim Brown in Old Stevenage and Michelle Gardner in Bandley Hill. We thank them for their service to their communities. We were also disappointed that six of our new candidates did not make it over the line.

"They all campaigned tirelessly in the difficult circumstances we faced this year and we thank them all for being prepared to step up and serve our communities.

She added: "This was the most complex set of elections we have had for a long time, incorporating three different elections and with all the complications of keeping everything safe from COVID. 

"Our town deserves the very best and we are proud of what we have achieved, both in terms of supporting our community through COVID and shaping up for a recovery that drives the difference we want to see. Building back better, greener and safer.

"We know just how much work there is still to do and we will start work again now to continue building that future. There are clearly lessons to be learned for our party both locally and nationally and we are determined to do that in Stevenage.

"All of us as councillors will ensure that your priorities are our priorities, we represent our community because we are part of our community. Thank you for your trust in us, we won’t let you down."

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