The words of the night for the South East – ‘No Overall Control’

Eva Ambler-Thomas

Intern

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The words of the night for the South East – ‘No Overall Control’

Before people across the county headed to their polling stations on May 5, we examined the key races to watch in the South East of England. Now that the results are in, we have revisited our predicted races to watch and looked at some of the surprises of the night! Labour made some solid gains, with growing support for the Lib Dems and the Greens across the region.

  1. Worthing

Labour secured control of Worthing Council in a historic result, gaining six seats, bringing their total to 23 seats. The Conservatives now hold 12 seats after losing 5 seats in the elections. The demographic changes in the area, specifically more younger people moving into the area, meant that there was always a possibility that Labour could take control of the Council, which had been under No Overall Control since 2021, and before this it was Conservative control since 2004.

Interestingly, Deputy Leader and Conservative Councillor Edward Crouch was ousted in Marine Ward, with Labour Party candidate, Andy Whight, taking his seat and making the ward fully Labour.

  1. Southampton

Southampton is back under Labour control again after a brief stint under Conservative control from 2021 onwards. The Council make up now consists of 26 Labour councillors, 21 conservative Councillors and 1 Liberal Democrat Councillor, retaining a close balance of power on the council.

Prior to the 2022 local elections, the Conservatives held 25 seats and Labour 22, meaning that the Council could change hands easily, with elections taking place for 1 seat in each of the 16 wards, with an additional seat up for grabs in Shirley ward.

The Liberal Democrats gained a seat from the Conservatives in Bassett ward with 2,108 votes, compared to 1,406 votes for the Conservative candidate. This seat is under Liberal Democrat control meaning that they now have a seat in the Council for the first time in 11 years.

  1. Portsmouth

Portsmouth City Council remains under No Overall Control, however the makeup of the Council changed significantly, with the Liberal Democrats managing to strengthen their support despite concern over their minority administration. The Council is now made up of 17 Liberal Democrats, 13 Conservatives, 9 Labour and 3 Portsmouth Independents.

Previously the Council consisted of 15 Liberal Democrats, 16 Conservatives, 7 Labour and 4 Independent. Long-standing Conservative Councillor Frank Jonas lost his seat in Hilsea ward and was replaced by Portsmouth Independent, Russell Simpson. Cllr Simpson was elected by just a 22-vote majority.

  1. Woking

Woking has changed hands from No Overall Control to Liberal Democrat control. The Council was previously controlled by a Conservative minority administration and is now made up of 16 Liberal Democrats, 8 Conservatives, 3 Independent and 3 Labour, demonstrating significant gains for the Liberal Democrats in this borough.

Close ward races, such as Heathlands, saw the Liberal Democrat candidate elected by a 419-vote majority. Similar results occurred in Knaphill ward with an Independent candidate receiving 1,397 votes to the Conservative’s 1,019.

  1. Crawley

A key South East battleground, Crawley has been returned to Labour control after the party gained enough seats to reach the 19 seat majority threshold. The previous makeup of the council saw the Conservatives hold 18 seats, and Labour 16 seats. Even a small change in this makeup would have seen a new party majority for the Council.

Labour gained a seat in Three Bridges, and the Conservatives held onto their seat in Tilgate ward very narrowly with a 43-vote majority. Results were extremely close in Furnace Green, Maidenbower, Southgate and Pound Hill North and Forge Wood, with winning councillors in each of these contests having fewer than 200 vote majorities.

Elsewhere in the South East, Gosport, Hastings, Maidstone, West Oxfordshire, and Wokingham Councils all changed hands on 5 May.

Gosport went from being Conservative to Liberal Democrat, with the new ward boundaries meaning that there were 28 seats up for grabs instead of 34, and the Liberal Democrats now take control of the council, with a majority of 6 seats.

Hastings, the previously Labour stronghold became No Overall Control. This is as a result of the Greens gaining 3 seats in Gensing, Central St Leonards and Tressell wards. Labour had been in control of the Council since 2009, however the 2021 elections saw an increase in support for the Conservative and Green parties, which continued for the Green party in 2022.

Maidstone was also plunged into No Overall Control despite the Conservatives previously having 29 seats on the Council. The Conservatives lost two seats during this election leaving them just one seat shy of a majority.

West Oxfordshire was previously under Conservative control, but the Council now faces No Overall Control after the Conservatives lost 5 seats. They had been in control of the Council for 22 years prior to this. Conservative Deputy Leader David Harvey lost his seat to the Labour candidate by just 69 votes.

Wokingham is also now under No Overall Control, after the Liberal Democrats managed to take 5 of the available Conservative seats. The Conservatives previously held control of the Council and are still the biggest party on the Council.

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A spectacular night for Labour in London, for the most part.

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