Published on Monday, 9th May 2016

 

This year’s elections have now been and gone and the makeup of the council is largely unchanged. The Conservatives remain on 19 seats and as a result the current minority administration is likely to continue for the next two years.

 

In Eastney and Craneswater ward, the LibDems’ Matthew Winnington retained his seat by a fairly comfortable margin. I congratulate him on his victory and I also acknowledge the amount of work that went into the LibDem campaign.

 

LD (Matthew Winnington)        1599

C (Sue Lloyd)                         1278

Lab (Julian Wright)                   500

Grn (Menno Groen)                  313

 

While the number of seats held by each party may not have moved significantly, the results were disappointing from my perspective. I attribute this largely to the on-going effects of austerity combined perhaps with the fading of the Mike Hancock effect, which has undoubtedly boosted the Conservative vote in recent cycles.

 

To expound a little further on austerity, this council is being very careful to avoid draining reserves because we are all well aware of what the consequences would be of not having a sufficient cash shock absorber to cope with rising demand or with savings not being achieved. The situation in some other authorities is now reaching a critical point.

 

An extreme example is Shropshire, which has announced that from April 2017 its combined budget for museums, libraries, leisure centres and parks maintenance will be zero: either parish councils take on responsibility or the services will go – even cutting the grass. We’re not in that sort of mess here, but with £26m in savings still to be identified, things are going to get very difficult.

 

Tags: Elections