July 28 2014 Latest news:
by Sam Blewett, Reporter
Friday, May 30, 2014
A struggle for council control is going on behind closed doors after no party achieved a majority in the local elections.
The most likely outcome is a Residents’ Association (RA) and Tory coalition, says an election expert.
The Conservatives won 22 seats – a loss of 11 since 2010 – but this is not enough to control the council alone.
The RA gained seven, giving them 19 overall and making it one of the main contenders for leadership.
At least 28 councillors are needed to take control. This could be done if the main players work together or with combinations of smaller parties.
Cllr Roger Ramsey, who led a coalition with the RAs in the 80s, was selected as Tory leader on Wednesday.
He hinted at a preference to work again with the RAs.
“If they are prepared to, then they are pushing at an open door,” he said.
RA leader Cllr Clarence Barrett said he was talking to all leaders.
Ukip had no seats in 2010 but gained seven. Leader Cllr Lawrence Webb has wavered since ruling out working with the Tories last week.
“A week’s a long time in politics,” he said. “There are things Ukip want to achieve and we’ll strive to achieve them however we can. We’ll work with any councillors who we are able to achieve them with.”
Stefan Swift, a political researcher for the London Communications Agency, said: “The Conservatives are going to join with the RA. That’s the most likely scenario as they have worked together in the past.”
The Independent Residents’ Group now has five councillors – a gain of one since 2010. Leader Cllr Jeff Tucker said: “I wouldn’t work with anyone else.”
Labour lost four councillors. Only its leader Cllr Keith Darvill was elected.
The earliest a decision will be made is Monday before it is confirmed at a council meeting on June 11.