In a bizarre turn of events, the Conservative Party lost two seats to Labour in the City of Lincoln Council elections, resulting in a hung council.
The new face of the council is one with 16 Conservative councillors, 16 Labour, and one Liberal Democrat. The Linc talked to both party council leaders to get their take on the situation.
Ric Metcalfe, the leader of the Labour councillors in Lincoln said: “We’ve done two things tonight. One is that we’ve successfully defended six seats out of the 11 contested, and [secondly] we’ve managed to make two gains.
“Clearly in the interest of responsible governance of the city conversations will need to take place between the parties currently represented on the council. What the outcome of these conversations will be, it’s impossible to say.
“Labour have got [an] established reputation for running the council effectively, we did so for 26 years between 1981 and 2007. Our priorities are well known: it’s about defending public services, making sure that the council plays an active role in trying to reinvest in the local economy, and to make sure that we protect the vulnerable sections of our community against the recession.
“I think against the national political background, clearly one couldn’t be too optimistic about how well we were going to do. It certainly has exceeded our expectations. We are pleased and ready to play our part in whatever happens after tonight.”
Darren Grice, the Conservative leader and former leader of the council said “I didn’t expect two seats to be lost, it was a weird situation because we were having to fight a by-election in [Moorland], so normally there would only be one seat up for grabs.
“We were fighting two very strong candidates who have previously been Labour councillors, who we ourselves have beaten and knocked off and they have come back. So we are very disappointed with the result
“With it being a general election as well, that means that the turnout is so much higher than we normally face in the [council] elections, and we’ve always historically struggled when there has been a high turnout.
“[However] I’m pleased that there was a high turnout because it means that a lot of people have been engaged in this election. Our main priority was to overturn a 3000 vote Labour majority for the parliament seat which we managed to do. Some may say that that was to the detriment of our position as a local authority, so it’s a mixed blessing. Now we have to see how we’re going to move forward with no overall control in the council.
Grice isn’t sure whether the party will try to form a coalition: “It’s too early to say. I wouldn’t want to pin the Lib Dem in a corner. I would imagine that Rick [Metcalfe] has just gone to try and talk to her, but we will have a group meeting on Saturday (May 8th) to discuss what the possibilities are, so we can get a mandate from the group, and then we will approach the Liberal and see how she wants to work.
“Whether she wants to work with us, whether she wants to work with the Labour group, or whether she just wants to vote on things as and when they come up. We will just have to see what that means for us.”
Matthew Holden, student at the University of Lincoln and Liberal Democrat candidate, managed to achieve a respectable 1018 votes, just 420 behind the winner of Abbey ward, Peter West for Labour.
And Carholme ward was decided on just seven votes, with Karen Lee for Labour holding back Charles Shaw for the Liberal Democrats.
A full list of results has been published below.
Abbey: Peter West – Labour
Birchwood: Jane Clark – Conservative
Boultham: Ralph Toofany – Labour
Bracebridge: Hilton Sprat – Conservative
Carholme: Karen Lee – Labour
Castle: Loraine Woolley – Labour
Glebe: Ric Metcalfe – Labour
Hartsholme: Geoffrey Kirby – Conservative
Minster: Yvonne Bodger – Conservative
Moorland: Bob Bushell and Geoff Ellis – Labour
Park: David Jackson – Labour