Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Cambridge City Council leader Anna Smith ‘thrilled’ by Labour gains





Cllr Anna Smith has said she is “thrilled” with the results from her first election as the leader of the council’s ruling Labour group and she said it showed voters had put their trust in the party’s vision for Cambridge.

Labour strengthened their hold by taking 12 of the 16 seats that were up for grabs, gaining two. The Liberal Democrat opposition won just three seats - meaning they lost three overall. One Labour seat went to the Green party, meaning Abbey ward is now represented by three Green councillors. There were no successful Conservative candidates.

From left, deputy leader Cllr Alex Collis, MP Daniel Zeichner and council leader Cllr Anna Smith at the manifesto launch. Picture: Keith Heppell
From left, deputy leader Cllr Alex Collis, MP Daniel Zeichner and council leader Cllr Anna Smith at the manifesto launch. Picture: Keith Heppell

The new composition of the council is:

  • Labour: 29 (+2)
  • Liberal Democrats: 9 (-3)
  • Green: 3 (+1)
  • Independents: 1 (no change)

Voting ended last might (Thursday, May 5) and today the electoral count was held at the University of Cambridge Sports Centre where there was a lengthy recount on the West Chesterton ward, where Labour held one seat and gained another from the Lib Dems.

Cllr Smith, who was comfortably returned to her Coleridge seat, said: “I’m really thrilled. And everyone’s fought such a hard campaign right across the city. It was a bit of a nailbiter with a long wait for those results [from the West Chesterton recount] at the end there but worth the wait.”

“I think people were really positive about our record on the council but I think they were also really positive about the fact we’ve got a clear vision for the future of Cambridge.”

She added that she would be straight back to work tomorrow but would celebrate with “a cup of tea” when she got home from the count.

Cambridge City Council election count at the University Sports Centre on May 6, 2022. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge City Council election count at the University Sports Centre on May 6, 2022. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cllr Smith added that there would be hard tasks ahead for the Labour-run council.

She said: “I think there are just some enormous things that we’ve got to deal with. So we’ve got the climate and biodiversity emergencies. They’re not going to go away just because we've got our cost of living crisis.

“We’ve got to deal with both those things right now. And those things will come together for a lot of people because those emergencies are shoving up the prices. They’re making it harder for people. So trying to deal with all of that together is a hard job. These are tough times. And we have never promised easy answers. And we’ve said that to people all along.

“Hopefully, people respected that and I’m just hugely grateful to Cambridge for putting the trust in us.”

Cambridge City Council election count at the University Sports Centre on May 6, 2022. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge City Council election count at the University Sports Centre on May 6, 2022. Picture: Keith Heppell

Meanwhile, the Green party was also celebrating in Cambridge after winning its third seat in Abbey - now an all-Green ward.

Matthew Howard was elected to the seat after Labour’s Haf Davies stood down.

Cllr Howard said: “I’m really happy with the result today. I think it shows what actually going out and talking to people day in and day out in in Abbey which, where we all live, and just having those conversations and connecting with people.”

Cambridge City Council election count at the University Sports Centre on May 6, 2022. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge City Council election count at the University Sports Centre on May 6, 2022. Picture: Keith Heppell

When asked why he thought voters had switched to Green in Abbey, he said: “We’ve seen the cost of living crisis really hit in some parts of the city or many parts of the city.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that we’re living in one of the most unequal cities in the UK and we’re not doing more. The local Labour government is not doing enough to better distribute the wealth that’s in the city to local residents.

“So there’s still a big division, if even a larger division than there has been in the past few years. So I want to really work closely with the community, but I’m also calling strongly for that better distribution, redistribution of support, particularly for things like insulation, which is a double win. It’s a win on reducing cost of living cost of gas bills, but it’s also a win for emissions and are impacting the environment.”

Matt Howard won the Abbey ward seat for Green Party in the 2022 Cambridge City Council elections
Matt Howard won the Abbey ward seat for Green Party in the 2022 Cambridge City Council elections

The Lib Dems did not enjoy much luck at this election.

Their leader, Cllr Tim Bick, said he believed national politics had played a part and that voters had seen supporting Labour candidates in Cambridge as a way of sending a message of dissatisfaction to the government.

He said: “I think we really have to see this a bit more in a broader, national context, because we struggle like everyone else to to focus people on what’s going on in Cambridge and what the city council is doing or should be doing.

“Some people - probably quite a few people - go along in those elections to express a view about the national situation. And I think that yesterday, it really looks like a lot of people went along to send a message of major dissatisfaction with the government’s cost of living crisis and partygate.

“They reached for the party that appeared to them closest at hand to do that, and that’s why I think in South Cambridgeshire, you see that the Liberal Democrats actually were that party because they were running the council. And they’ve gone from strength to strength yesterday, and it’s partly because they’ve done a great job, but partly because they’ve been the obvious people to send the message to the government.

“In Cambridge, I’m afraid those people have been Labour, even though exactly the same message probably would have come from us on those questions.

“It’s actually very frustrating for us because I think we were making some really important points about the future of Cambridge. And unfortunately, it’s been possible for Labour to shelter under the national swing.”

Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridge City Council
Cllr Tim Bick, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cambridge City Council

He added that he would continue to fight against some of the issues that are most worrying him in the city.

“I think that one of the serious things that we tried to give a good hearing to is the fact that the city council, crazily enough, is marketing new homes to property speculators in the in the Far East and it amazes people when they hear that, and we obviously didn’t succeed in getting that across but that is something that has to stop,” he said.

“Whatever the election result was today, we will be carrying on that argument. And another issue, which is quite important and galvanised a lot of people, was this question in the north of Cambridge where there’s going to be a lot of new developments, bringing with it amenities - or it should be doing. But people are discovering that the swimming pool and sports pitches aren’t going to happen there at all.

“The money that comes from development looks like currently being switched to other parts of the city, which I think seems simply not fair, and simply not consistent with trying to address some of the inequalities in the north of Cambridge, which Labour professed to care so much about. So when you break these issues down, there are many reasons why we need a strong opposition.”

Read more

Elections 2022: Cambridge City Council results

Elections 2022: South Cambridgeshire District Council results

Live: Cambridgeshire 2022 elections results as they happen

Elections 2022: ‘It’s a vote of confidence in Lib Dems - and now we’ll oust MP’ says South Cambridgeshire District Council leader



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More