Elections 2021: Conservatives lose overall control of Cambridgeshire County Council - where did it go wrong for them?
After losing overall control of the Cambridgeshire County Council in today's election result, the Conservatives have hinted they will consider a coalition to run the authority.
Conservative county councillor Josh Schumann told the Cambridge Independent: “It is an indication we are going to have to work with others to ensure that the council delivers a lot of what it has done over the last four years.”
He also blamed the decision by Labour not to field candidates in some South Cambridgeshire seats for causing the swing to the Lib Dems that saw Conservative councillors lose their seats.
And he claimed that this disastrous result for the Conservatives on the county council was no indication of what would happen in the mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner results due out tomorrow (Saturday, May 8).
Cllr Schumann said: “Of course it is disappointing to a certain extent. I think the Conservative administration put a lot of hard work during the campaign. I think there is no doubt that a lot of this is down to that fact that in South Cambs there were a number of Labour candidates that didn't stand and so we lost a lot of Conservative candidates as a result of the Liberal Democrats not having any other opposition. I don't think it's an indication about the Conservative administration because in areas where we had a full complement of candidates the Conservatives have done really well.
“It’s natural to say that the political ideas are more politically aligned between Labour and Liberal Democrats than with Conservatives so when Labour didn't put any candidates up it diluted the votes to the extent that good Conservative candidates lost their seat.”
Sawston and Shelfords division was previously held by Tories Kevin Cuffley and former Tory group leader Roger Hickford. Mr Cuffley didn't stand for re-election. Mr Hickford stood down following the Farmgate controversy in which the tenancy of a council-owned farm given to him. Conservative Cllr Roger Hickford resigned from the authority after the publication of a report concerning his occupancy of Manor Farm, Girton, as a tenant of the county council’s farms estate.
Both of the Tory candidates standing in Sawston and Shelford were defeated by the Lib Dems.
The Conservatives have lost overall control of Cambridgeshire County Council after losing six seats.
Cllr Schumann, who retained his seat, added: “I think ‘Farmgate’ is an interesting phrase. There were obviously challenges around that. I think the council carried out a really robust and full investigation into it and as a result Roger Hickford decided to step away from the council and he obviously has his own reasons for doing so. You can't say that one individual's actions are reflective of a party and the Conservatives have worked really hard to make sure that during one of the most challenging times we have faced in modern history we have continued to support our residents and work with our communities and delivered some really great results. I'm sure some people will have had (Farmgate) at the forefront of their mind but it's a shame because one person shouldn't be the driving force behind what local government does for the past four years.”
This has been a disaster for the Tories, who will have expected to retain power. But they end on 28 seats - three short of the 31 needed. In the coming days it will be revealed whether the Conservatives can cut a deal with the four independent candidates and form a coalition that can run the county council for the next term.
The final tally for Cambridgeshire County Council
- Conservatives: 28 (-6)
- Liberal Democrats: 20 (+4)
- Labour: 9 (+3)
- Independent: 2 (no change)
- St Neots Independent Group: 2 (no change)