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And then there were two, as Tories lose stranglehold on county scene

By Tamworth Herald  |  Posted: May 10, 2013

  • Tamworth's Labour Party were in a celebratory mood after securing three of Tamworth's six county council seats.

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JUBILANT Labour clinched half of Tamworth's county council seats after a closely-fought election battle.

Three candidates secured the wards of Amington, Bolebridge and Watling North, with Joan Jenkins adding to the celebration by winning the borough council Wilnecote by-election.

And the first-ever Independent county councillor of Tamworth was announced, as Chris Cooke trumped four other candidates to settle the Stonydelph seat.

The results served a bitter blow to Tamworth's Tories, whose control fell from five seats to two.

For Labour's Carol Dean, it was a return to politics after she lost her seat in the 2009 county council elections.

Cllr Dean, who won back the Bolebridge seat with 41 per cent of the votes, said: "These elections show that many people have lost trust in David Cameron's ability to change Britain.

"Over the coming months and years, I'll continue to work hard with my Labour colleagues to demonstrate that Labour has the ideas and the policies that can take Tamworth, and Britain, forward."

The seat was previously held by Conservative's Michael Oates.

Cllr Dean is also the parliamentary candidate for Labour – and will stand against Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher in the next General Election.

Also returning to politics was Brian Jenkins, the former MP of Tamworth, whose role now stands as county councillor of Watling North – John Wells, who was elected in 2009, did not stand.

It was a close call, however, with Cllr Jenkins beating Conservative's Steven Claymore by just 20 votes.

The Labour councillor admitted: "It was disappointing not to have made more headway and even snatch control in Staffordshire, but going from three to 24 Labour councillors was a magnificent result and will allow us to hold the controlling Conservatives accountable through tough democratic scrutiny.

"Here is where the long hours and hard work begin."

There was further success for Labour as Sheree Peaple snatched the Amington seat away from Conservative's Jeremy Oates, who was elected in 2009.

She said: "I'm thrilled and delighted. I feel very privileged to represent our community on the county council."

A disappointed Jeremy Oates said he believed he lost his seat due to the electorate voting on national issues, including the recent benefit changes.

He said: "People wanted to send a message to David Cameron, not realising that these elections had nothing to do with that.

"I heard it on the doorsteps that people were going to protest vote, so I was prepared for the result come polling day."

One of the biggest shocks of the night came down to the Stonydelph seat, where Cllr Chris Cooke clinched the ward with a 36 per cent share of the votes – 27 votes ahead of second-place Pauline Hinks of Labour.

It makes him the first Independent county councillor to sit on any Tamworth seat. The position was previously vacant following the death of well-respected Cllr Brian Beale on Boxing Day.

Admitting he was said he was "exhausted" following his campaign, Mr Cooke added: "It has been a little bit of history in the making but is only a first hurdle.

"Where I can work with other councillors I will. If I have to stand alone I will. But I will always be aware that it is people I represent, not a council bureaucracy and not a political party."

It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Conservatives – Ben Adams retained his seat in Perrycrofts and Michael Greatorex clinched the Watling South seat after claiming half of the total votes.

Cllr Adams said: "I pledged in my campaign to continue to improve road surfaces across the area and this is my top priority.

"I'm determined to keep on helping local community groups and volunteers as this underpins the great local spirit in Tamworth."

Cllr Greatorex told the Herald that he owed his success to his predecessor, Conservative's Lee Bates, who decided not to stand in this year's elections.

He pledged: "I will do my best and pursue issues for the benefit of the residents of Tamworth and Watling South."

In the Wilnecote by-election, which was held following the death of Cllr Beale, Labour's Joan Jenkins claimed victory to become the new Tamworth Borough councillor for Wilnecote.

There were just 17 votes between her and Conservative candidate Alex Farrell.

Cllr Jenkins said: "I'm determined to get the best for Wilnecote and am especially keen to see the Wilnecote environment continue to improve with better parks maintenance and highway monitoring."

The results also saw villages near Tamworth remain under Conservative control after a win in Lichfield Rural East and Lichfield Rural South by Tory's Alan White and David Stratford Smith, respectively.

In North Warwickshire, Labour came out on top, with Brian Moss holding on to Kingsbury and Dave Parsons gaining the Polesworth seat in the Warwickshire County Council elections.

There were no wins in Tamworth or North Warwickshire for UKIP, The Green Party or the Liberal Democrats.

But UKIP candidate Stephen French said he was "delighted" as candidates in Amington, Bolebridge, Perrycrofts, Lichfield Rural East and Lichfield Rural South gained more than 25 per cent of the vote.

He said: "We want to express our thanks to our voters in what must be considered a stunning first entry for UKIP."

Results for Tamworth were counted overnight last Thursday (May 2) at The Rawlett School, with counts for North Warwickshire and Lichfield Rural confirmed the following day.

The Conservative party retained control of Staffordshire County Council after winning 34 seats in total. Labour won 24, with UKIP and Independents winning two seats each.

Turnout stood at 30 per cent.

Following the elections, Warwickshire is now a hung council, with the Conservatives losing overall control.

The county council is now made up of 26 Conservative members, 22 Labour, nine Liberal Democrats, two members of The Green Party and three Independents. Total turnout was 32 per cent.

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  • Cllrp  |  June 19 2013, 2:12PM

    All County Council seats in Tamworth were Labour until 2009 and before that for as long as most can remember. Equally they have lost Fazeley in a straight Labour Tory fight. This are not good days for Tamwrth Labour. They should be taking back all six, not winning just 3. The two seats around tamworth are also solid Conservative.

  • Abominate  |  May 12 2013, 3:20AM

    He [Jeremy Oates] said: "People wanted to send a message to David Cameron, not realising that these elections had nothing to do with that." What rot; of course they had everything to do with that. People, as Mr. Oates knows well enough vote locally on national issues because local party members tend to support the policy of their government or party. The only problem is they appear to have taken the vote to UKIP which suggests to me one of two things; either they don't think their party is far right enough and want more draconian measures to cut their taxes at the expense of the poor or they only see 'UKIP against immigration and out of Europe' and don't realise UKIPs economic and social policies are, where they have any, rather more draconian than those of the Tories!

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  • bingbongbang  |  May 10 2013, 4:28PM

    I would hardly call 3 out of 6 seats a resounding victory, especially when Labour expected to win all 6. Before the election, both Labour and the national media said Labour would take back control of Staffordshire County Council but that didn't happen did it

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