ELECTION LATEST: Tories retain control of county council with increased majority

editorial image

The Conservatives retained control of Leicestershire Council today (Friday), and also increased their majority.

As we revealed on our live feed throughout the afternoon, the final result was Conservatives 36 seats (up six); Liberal Democrats 13 (no change), Labour six (down three).

UKIP, which had two county council seats last time, saw their vote completely collapse. Short on candidates and short on votes, it could hardly have gone worse for them.

In the Harborough area, all seven seats remained with the same party as in 2013.

That means Broughton Astley, Bruntingthorpe, Gartree. Lutterworth and Market Harborough West with Foxton stayed Conservative, while Market Harborough East and Launde remained Liberal Democrat.

First local seat to be announced at the count at Market Harborough Leisure Centre was Broughton Astley, where Conservative Bill Liqourish retained a thumping majority.

Cllr Liquorish, 76 next month, said he would be delighted to work hard for another four years as a county councillor and thanked his voters for their support.

There was another big Conservative majority for Blake Pain at Bruntingthorpe - Cllr Pain is also the leader of Harborough District Council.

He said he was “honoured and grateful” and talked about tackling the financial challenges ahead for Leicestershire County Council.

Cllr Pain had switched to the safe Bruntingthorpe seat from the Market Harborough West and Foxton seat, which he won last time by just 18 votes.

He had been accused by opposition candidates of “leaving a sinking ship” - but as he pointed out, the ship didn’t sink.

Market Harborough West and Foxton was retained for the Tories by Paul Bremner, who was 312 votes ahead of Liberal Democrat Peter James. “And by an increased majority - I’m ecstatic” said Cllr Bremner.

UKIP, which did not have a candidate in the seat this time, got more than 800 votes here in 2013. With the Labour vote almost identical to 2013, and the Lib-Dem vote only slightly up, it looked like many of those votes went to the Conservatives this time.

Market Harborough East was retained by Liberal Democrat Sarah Hill, who saw off a strong challenge from Phil King (Conservative) by increasing her own number of votes by more than 650.

When asked about her plans for the next four years, she said: “I’ll just carry on serving the people of Market Harborough - that’s the only reason I do this.”

There was another Liberal Democrat triumph in Launde, where Simon Galton had a convincing majority, pulling in nearly 300 more votes than in 2013.

He acknowledged that the Liberal Democrats faced a big Conservative majority on the County Council, but insisted there was still a lot the opposition group could do to “hold the Conservative administration to account”, not least through their chairing of the council’s Scrutiny Committee.

There was a big Conservative majority for Kevin Feltham in Gartree, who has represented the area for 16 years. He said he would continue campaigning despite council finances that made the job “a lot more challenging than it used to be.”

This seat was an interesting one to observe what had happened to the UKIP vote. The same UKIP candidate - Brett Lynes - stood in 2013 and this time. In 2013 he was a good second behind Cllr Feltham with 888 votes. This time he was fifth with just 150 votes.

Finally, in the Harborough district, Conservative Rosita Page retained the Lutterworth seat.

“I’m very grateful to the people who voted for me” she said, “It’s a lot of work, a lot of commitment, but I’m looking forward to it.”