County council elections round-up for Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar
Deborah Price, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Supplied
Across Welwyn Hatfield the Conservatives gained four county council seats - taking two from the Liberal Democrats and two from Labour.
That means the Conservatives now hold seven of the eight county council seats decided by the area’s residents.
And of those eight seats, only Hatfield South – retained by sitting councillor Paul Zukowskyj – remains Lib Dem.
Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council Tony Kingsbury won the seat that had been vacated by fellow Tory Richard Smith, who stepped down this year after representing the division for 28 years.
Cllr Fiona Thomson – who is the borough council’s executive member for governance, public health and climate change – gained the Handside and Peartree division.
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She took the seat from sitting Lib Dem county councillor Nigel Quinton, with a majority of 47 votes.
Meanwhile Hatfield North was taken from sitting Labour county councillor Margaret Eames-Peterson by Conservative James Bond – with a majority of less than 100.
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Conservatives also gained Haldens, while holding on to Hatfield East and Hatfield Rural.
Cllr Stephen Boulton will continue to represent Hatfield Rural, but Hatfield East will be represented by Peter Hebden.
In Hertsmere, the Conservatives held on to just four of their seven seats - including in Potters Bar East and Potters Bar West and Shenley.
Leader of the borough council Cllr Morris Bright was among those who held on to his seat.
Overall the Conservatives have retained their control of Herts County Council - but lost their leader in an election shock, when Cllr David Williams lost his seat in Harpenden North East to Lib Dem Paul De Kort.
All 78 seats on the county council were up for grabs. The Conservatives won 46 seats - which is three fewer than before, but still 14 more than the other parties put together.
Lib Dems took 23 seats, which is five more than before, and Labour's seven elected councillors is now three fewer than previously.
The Green Party now has a voice on the county council after Ben Crystall won All Saints Hertford.
Conservative Cllr Teresa Heritage – who was deputy leader and is now interim leader of the county council – said: “I am very pleased that the people of Hertfordshire have put their faith in the Conservative Party to continue running Hertfordshire for the next four years.
“There were some disappointing results, but we are looking forward to continuing to deliver people’s local priorities.”
Overall the Conservatives lost 10 seats, but gained seven elsewhere – giving a net loss of three seats across the county.
But Cllr Heritage highlights the ‘excellent’ results in Welwyn Hatfield, where the Party gained two seats from the Lib Dems and two from Labour.
Meanwhile leader of the county council Lib Dem group Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst has also welcomed the results.
The Lib Dems lost two of their existing seats – both in Welwyn Hatfield. But they made seven other gains – giving the a net gain of five seats.
And Cllr Giles-Medhurst says the results have strengthened their position as the official Opposition.
He says they are ‘extremely pleased’ to have made the gains, despite the ‘Boris bounce’ impacting on results across the country.
However he is disappointed with a number of ‘narrow losses’ – including Handside and Peartree, in Welwyn Hatfield, which was lost by just 47 votes.
“We will hold the administration to account even more so from an invigorated and strengthened position,” he said.
Labour had hoped to increase on the nine county councillors they had in Herts.
But they lost five seats across the county in the May 6 elections and gained just three – leaving a net loss of two seats.
Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Judi Billing says she was “massively disappointed” to lose such talented councillors.
She said: “We had obviously hoped – and expected – to have a larger group rather than smaller. This is terribly disappointing.”
Labour candidates gained two seats in Hertsmere divisions and one in North Herts. But they lost two seats in Welwyn Hatfield, as well as one in St Albans, one in Stevenage and one in Three Rivers.
In accounting for the losses, Cllr Billing points to the national trend and suggests national Labour Party messaging may have also played a part.
Nevertheless she says Labour county councillors will ‘re-group’ – and still expect to be ‘punching above our weight’.