Hertfordshire County Council election results 2021: Conservatives keep control of county council – but lose their leader
All 78 seats on the county council were up for grabs in the local elections
The Conservatives have retained their control of Hertfordshire County Council – but lost their leader in an election shock.
All 78 seats on the county council were up for grabs in the local elections on Thursday (May 6).
The Conservatives won 46 seats – which is three fewer than they held before, but still 14 more than the other Parties put together.
Liberal Democrats took 23 seats – which is five more than before. And Labour’s seven elected councillors is now two fewer than before.
The Green Party now have a voice on the county council , after Ben Crystall won All Saints Hertford.
Meanwhile Independent Jan Maddern also made it on to the county council – taking the Hemel Hempstead South East seat, which had been held by the Tories.
But the shock result of the night was in the Harpenden North East division, in St Albans, where council leader Cllr David Williams lost his seat to Liberal Democrat Paul De Kort by just 41 votes.
And other ballot box casualties included Conservative cabinet member Cllr Derrick Ashley (Hitchin South), who held the portfolio for growth, infrastructure, planning and the economy, whose seat was taken by Liberal Democrat Paul Clark.
Cllr Teresa Heritage – who was deputy leader and is now interim leader of the county council – says the Conservative administration will now work to deliver local priorities.
Commenting on the results, she 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.”
Hertfordshire County Council will also appoint a new Leader of the Council to hold office for the next four years.
The new Leader of the Council will be proposed by the Conservative group, Hertfordshire County Council’s majority party, and will be formally appointed alongside the new Chairman of the Council, at the Council’s Annual General Meeting on 25 May.
Until then, Deputy leader Teresa Heritage will assume the position of interim Leader.
Owen Mapley, Chief Executive, Hertfordshire County Council said: “On behalf of all Council staff, I would like to extend my congratulations to all the newly elected members of Hertfordshire County Council.
"As we look ahead at the challenges and opportunities facing the county as we emerge from the pandemic, we look forward to working with all councillors to ensure Hertfordshire continues to be a county of opportunity for all.
“In addition, I would like to extend my thanks to colleagues, partners, volunteers and the District Councils’ electoral services across the county for their hard work and dedication to ensuring the elections were run smoothly and safely for Hertfordshire’s residents.”
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 – winning seven of the eight county council seats decided by voters in Welwyn Hatfield overall.
Meanwhile leader of the county council Liberal Democrat group Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst has also welcomed the results.
The Liberal Democrats lost two of their existing seats – both in Welwyn Hatfield. But they made seven other gains – giving the a net gain on the county council of five seats.
And Cllr Giles-Medhurst says the results – giving them a total of 23 county council seats – 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 accepts he is disappointed with a number of ‘narrow losses’ – including Handside and Peartree, in Welwyn Hatfield area, 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.
Cllr Giles-Medhurst puts the Lib Dem successes down to residents seeing how effectively the Lib Dems run local councils such as Watford, Three Rivers and St Albans.
And he also highlights the hard work of Party members all year through, in keeping in touch with residents, listening to their concerns and dealing with issues.
“They may vote differently in General Elections and in elections like police and crime commissioners,” he said. “But they like what we are doing locally and they are backing us.”
Labour had hoped to increase on the nine county councillors they had in Hertfordshire.
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 on the county council, Cllr Judi Billing says she was “massively disappointed” to lose such talented councillors.
And 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’.
The final results for the county council elections – which took place on May 6 – were published just after 11pm on Saturday night.
Counting of the ballot papers had been delayed on the advice of public health chiefs – so that papers could be quarantined to prevent the risk of Covid-19 spread.
Votes for the county council seats in Broxbourne were counted on Friday – but the remaining nine areas of the county started to count the papers on Saturday morning.