Tories remain in control as Lib Dems slip in polls

Winners and losers at the locale Election count, Stadium:MK
Winners and losers at the locale Election count, Stadium:MK
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LABOUR celebrated winning six seats on Milton Keynes Council, while for the second year running the Lib Dems are left searching for a new leader.

Sam Crooks lost out by just four votes in Middleton ward to Conservative candidate Peter McDonald with the Lib Dems losing two seats overall, reducing their number in the chamber to 15.

Winners and losers at the locale Election count, Stadium:MK

Winners and losers at the locale Election count, Stadium:MK

Labour’s huge gain helped them leap-frog the ailing Lib Dems as they increased their hold to 16 seats, while the Conservatives lost one seat overall, but maintained control of the council.

However for the second year in succession, the Lib Dems are left searching for a new leader. Last year, despite Councillor Cec Tallack holding on to his position as ward councillor for Campbell Park by two votes, he opted to step aside to allow Sam Crooks to take over as leader.

But losing out by just four votes this time around, Mr Crooks has had to relinquish his role as leader as the Lib Dems slipped to third in the pecking order behind Labour.

He said: “For it to be decided by just four votes was to be expected, it is always the case in this ward.

“I have really enjoyed working for the people of Middleton and I hope I can continue to work in the ward.

“Unfortunately we have suffered in accordance with the national trend, which is very disappointing.”

There were signs overnight that Labour would be the big winners on the day as they made huge gains up and down the country.

However, starting the day with just nine seats on Milton Keynes Council, they were unlikely to overhaul the huge lead held by the Conservatives on 21.

And despite losing one seat, the Tories held on to a slim four seat advantage over the opposition, with Labour taking over from the Lib Dems.

Leader of the council, Andrew Geary, said: “We are still the majority party which is a good thing. We knew there would be tight results in a number of wards but if you’d said to me last night, watching the national results, that we would only have a net loss of one I would have taken it.

“Some of the wards were on a knife edge and we are disappointed to have lost Bletchley and Fenny Stratford as we worked hard there and kept the Labour party working.

“They now take their rightful place as our official opposition, although I have been referring to them as such for the last 12 months.

“But for us to still be the majority party is a vote of thanks to all of our councillors.”

It was a bad day for the independent councillors too. Philip Gerrella, Liz Campbell, Mike Barry and Isabella Fraser all lost their seats on the council; the council now looks like this:

> Conservatives – 20

> Labour – 16

> Lib Dems – 15

Of the total registered voting population in Milton Keynes, just 29.4 per cent turned out at the polls on Thursday, much lower than the 32 per cent nationally. The turnout was the lowest since 2000.

> See page 2 for more reaction.