Thursday, 07 July 2022

Conservative leader ‘disappointed’ to lose control of council

Conservative leader ‘disappointed’ to lose control of council

THE Liberal Democrats are hoping to seize power in Wokingham from the Conservatives.

The Tories lost control of the borough council after two decades in charge in the council elections last week.

The council now has no party in overall control after the Tories lost five seats, the Liberal Democrats won nine and Labour gained one.

The Conservatives remain the largest party with 26 members but the Lib-Dems now have 23 and want to run the council with the support of the three Labour councillors and two independents.

Clive Jones, leader of the Lib-Dems, said: “We have been in talks over an agreement with the Labour and independent councillors and these talks will continue for the coming days.

“Overall, I am very pleased and very excited with the results. We have been making steady progress over the last few years and we are now in a good position to move forward.”

Conservative leader John Halsall, from Remenham, said: “I am disappointed of course but still grateful to all the people who voted Conservative.

“I didn’t expect to lose the seats we did,but we are still the largest party. It’s possible we will come to an agreement in the coming days. We have been speaking to the Labour and Independent councillors.” We have also been speaking to the Lib-Dems. An agreement with them would not be impossible.”

Conservative Graham Howe was re-elected in the Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe ward.

He received 872 votes well ahead of Lib-Dem Martijn Andrea (450), Labour’s Stuart Crainer (237) and Green Party candidate Merv Boniface (175).

The turnout for the ward was 40.88 per cent.

Councillor Howe said: “It’s good to have won but on the other hand this ward is traditionally Conservative.

“It is now a hung council, so it’s still not clear if I will be in a governing party or an opposition party. Either way, my work as a councillor has always run on the principle of Wargrave first and foremost.”

The overall turnout was 43.67 per cent.

Labour held on to power at Reading Borough Council. All 46 seats were up for grabs, plus two new ones, and the ruling party gained three, the Greens two and the Lib-Dems one. The Conservatives lost three and the only sitting independent lost too.

Labour now has 32 seats compared with 16 combined among the other parties.

In the Caversham ward, all three seats remained Labour on a turnout of 43 per cent. Jacopo Lanzoni received the most votes with 1,915, followed by Matt Yeo with 1,793, and Jan Gavin with 1,622.

Councillor Lanzoni, an Italian who has lived in Caversham for more than six years and runs Keep Caversham Tidy, said: “I am overwhelmed to have been elected and I am so grateful for the strong support.

“I promise to do the best I can for my constituents.”

In the new Caversham Heights ward, Conservatives Isobel Ballsdon and Paul Carnell were elected with 1,629 and 1,340 votes respectively together with Labour’s Sue Kitchingham with 1,343. The turnout was 50 per cent.

Councillor Ballsdon, who has lived in Caversham for nearly 30 years and has served as a councillor for 16 of them, said: “I’m thrilled I’ve still got the support of the local community.

“As the longest-standing Conservative on the council, it was a nice surprise to receive the most votes. I have a number of campaigns up my sleeve and I will continue to serve my community in the best way I can.”

Emmer Green ward, which is traditionally a Tory stronghold, remained true to form.

Clarence Mitchell was
re-elected with 1,380 votes ahead of Simon Robinson with 1,372 and Harry Kretchmer with 1,299. The turnout was 42 per cent.

Councillor Mitchell, a former BBC reporter, had supported the unsuccessful campaign against the housing redevelopment at Reading Golf Club.

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