As a traditional Labour heartland, Nuneaton and Bedworth has, in recent general and local elections, become a strong indicator for the way the Midlands region, and indeed the country, tends to vote.
Since 2010, Nuneaton and Bedworth has supported successive Conservative governments, from Cameron to Johnson, in their bid for the keys to 10 Downing Street, each time electing Conservative MPs to its seats in Westminster, in the form of Marcus Jones, Craig Tracey and Dan Byles.
Locally, it has been a different story. Between 2012 and 2018, Labour had control of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council. Up until 2021, they still retained the largest number of seats despite no single party having overall control of the council.
At the last round of local elections, which took place in 2021, the Conservatives secured a comprehensive victory, winning 15 of the 17 wards up for election. In a dramatic reversal of fortunes, Labour’s support plummeted. The Conservatives, for the first time since 2008, had won a majority on the borough council.
This time around, it was another momentous night in Nuneaton and Bedworth, as the Conservatives, for the first time in the borough’s history, retained overall control of the council.
They in fact strengthened their hold – increasing their number of councillors to 27, and council majority to 20 – a nine-fold increase compared to 2014, when the Conservative Party had just three councillors in the Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council.
It was a night of shocks, as Bedworth turned completely blue – with the Greens also enjoying success in the ward of Weddington, upping their numbers within the council to two.
Account Manager Josh Borthwick was there for all the twists and turns, alongside 115 count staff, to tell the tale of the 2022 Nuneaton and Bedworth local elections…
23:00 – Early gossip in the press section of the sports hall at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College is that the Conservatives will retain control of the council on a reduced majority, with Labour making a few gains
23:15 – Members of the press note that local Conservatives are looking nervy
23:20 – An announcement is made that the count is commencing for the Whitestone, Camp Hill, Barpool, Attleborough and Wembrook wards
23:22 – Marcus Jones MP is overheard mentioning to local Conservatives that “it’ll be close” in Barpool ward
23:25 – An announcement is made that the count is commencing for Bede, Heath and Slough wards
23:27 – An announcement is made that the count is commencing for the Weddington, Galley Common, St. Nicolas and Arbury wards
23:30 – An announcement is made that the count is commencing for the Kingswood, Bulkington and Abbey wards
23:33 – An announcement is made that the count is commencing for the Exhall ward
23:40 – A rumour circulates that Barpool ward, gained by the Conservatives in a by-election in 2021, is to return to Labour after just a year
23:45 – An announcement is made that the count is commencing for the Poplar ward
12:06 – The first result of the night is in! Labour hold Wembrook with a 54.3% share of the vote
12:22 – North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey arrives in the sports hall for the count, quickly entering into deep discussion with Marcus Jones MP
12:26 –Weddington goes green! The Green Party gain Weddington from the Conservatives by virtue of a 2.2% swing, securing a 43.4% share of the vote. Previously seen as a local Conservatives stronghold, this is a surprise to many
12:27 – Labour hold Camp Hill with a 47.1% share of the vote
12:37 – Conservatives hold Exhall, Heath and Slough, with a 47.5%, 51.6% and 61.4% share of the vote respectively
12:46 – Confirmation that the Conservatives take full control of Bedworth! They gain Bede from Labour due to a 3.2% swing, securing a 48.6% share of the vote, adding to the holds in Exhall, Heath and Slough
12:55 –The Conservatives concern is misplaced and the rumour goes up in smoke, as they hold Barpool by the narrow margin of 86 seats, with a vote share of 47.6% – clinging onto the ward they won via by-election last year. They also hold Arbury and Bulkington, picking up 56.7% and 71.1% of the vote respectively
1:01 – The Conservatives hold Poplar with a 52.1% share of the vote
1:02 – The Conservatives hold St. Nicholas with a 47.6% share of the vote
1:04 – The Conservatives hold Whitestone with a 69.8% share of the vote, which sees current council and local Conservatives leader Kris Wilson returned
1:05 – Labour hold Abbey with a 60.5% share of the vote
1:06 – The Conservatives hold Galley Common with a 55.6% share of the vote
1:08 – The Conservatives hold Attleborough with a 52.1% share of the vote
1:09 – Labour round off the evening’s proceedings by holding Kingswood with a 55.2% share of the vote
1:10 – Local Conservatives, including MP for Nuneaton Marcus Jones and local Conservatives leader Kris Wilson, celebrate a job well done. Smiles all round!