Stevenage: Political leaders react to the Local Election 2022 results
- Credit: Will Durrant/Archant
After a relatively heavy blow in 2021, the Labour Party has managed to claw back some of its losses on Stevenage Borough Council.
The party, led by Councillor Sharon Taylor, won nine out of thirteen seats in the Local Elections 2022, gaining two seats from the Conservatives in the Old Town and Roebuck wards.
But Tory leaders have rejected the idea that the gains made on Friday, May 6 mark a Labour resurgence in the town.
Cllr Phil Bibby, leader of the opposition at SBC, said: "It's certainly disappointing to have lost two seats.
"But if you look at the results, we were in 11 seats after last year's election, and seven after 2019.
"When I first became a councillor we had just three or four, so we have still got an upward trend to gain more influence in Stevenage."
In the May 2021 election, Labour lost four seats to the Conservatives in Roebuck (two seats), Old Town and Brandley Hill.
In 2022, Labour beat the Tories in Old Town by 165 votes, and in Roebuck by 129.
Since last year's vote, Cllr Bibby has warned SBC leaders against overzealous spending on consultants and larger anti-fly tipping campaigns.
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Cllr Bibby said after the election: "The first thing I would do if we were in charge at SBC would be to work out quite how we can follow the sustainability agenda - balancing finances so we can pay for vital improvements."
He said the move to better insulate social housing should rely on a robust funding model which steers clear of council reserves.
He added: "The seats which we lost were quite marginal - we only gained them in 2021.
"For sure, people mentioned national issues on the doorstep - but only a few.
"Most residents wanted to talk about local issues."
Conservative MP Stephen McPartland said: "We got over 25,000 votes in 2019.
"People are worried about the cost of living, but I want to get the energy price cap back in place from October.
"It's about getting out there, listening to people and representing what they want."
Anne Wells, Labour, won the Roebuck seat for the first time.
She said she has lived in Stevenage from 1964 and worked as a nurse.
"This election says something about national politics," said Anne.
"The Conservatives are selling the NHS off bit by bit.
"They are presiding over a huge shortage in nurses with no solutions."
In March this year, the government's own figures showed that there were 110,000 posts unfilled across NHS England.
Anne added: "I made a real point of going into the coffee shops and meeting voters to hear about what their concerns are.
"I'm really focused on housing and town regeneration, making sure that young people still want to live in Stevenage, keeping the town centre going, and that they can afford to do that."
Cllr Sharon Taylor retained her seat in Symonds Green this month.
She said: "Symonds Green is a lovely part of Stevenage but it's right on the edge of town.
"In my ward, I want to make sure developments can go ahead, but at the same time, making sure that the existing community gets something out of those developments.
"I'm advocating for a better bus service in Symonds Green.
"More generally, I'm looking at issues like cost-of-living.
"And the billion-pound regeneration will continue - we're going to continue putting really impressive bids together not just for public-sector funding, but also for input from the private sector."
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Robin Parker praised his team for increasing their majority in Chells ward.
He said: "We spend our local budgets - we're known for that.
"We've put defibrillators throughout Chells and Manor with more on the way.
"We blast the area with daffodils in the spring, and that's important to the community."
Stevenage Local Election 2022 turnout stood at 33.59 percent, down from 35.71 percent the previous year.