South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have been celebrating after boosting their share of council seats to 28% (up 5% on 2015) and defeating two Conservative frontbenchers. The Conservatives narrowly clung on to control of the Council with a reduced majority but notable election casualties included Conservative Cabinet member for Resources, Rob Creer, and Conservative Chair of Health Scrutiny, Marian Gilpin. Both lost their seats to new Lib Dem councillors.
Leader of the Lib Dem Council Group and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Thornbury & Yate, Claire Young said: “I am delighted by these results. We were the only party to increase both our number of councillors and share of the vote. I am particularly pleased to be joined by seven new Liberal Democrat councillors. The Lib Dems now hold 17 out of 61 seats in total, including 16 out of the 20 seats in Thornbury & Yate constituency – putting us in a strong position to take back the seat from the Conservatives at the next General Election.”
The number of votes cast for each party in Thornbury & Yate constituency was:
Liberal Democrats: 14,174 (55%)
Conservatives: 9,699 (37%)
Labour: 1,396 (5%)
Independents: 340 (1%)
UKIP: 330 (1%)
Claire Young added: “This result is a clear warning to the Conservatives that local residents are sick and tired of being taken for granted while the Tories fight among themselves and neglect public services. If they don’t get a grip and start putting residents and services first, then I believe that the Conservatives will lose the constituency and the Council next time round.”
There was good news for the Lib Dems outside of their traditional strongholds too, with James Arrowsmith winning Stoke Park & Cheswick ward in Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency. At 23, James will become the youngest member of the Council. James said: “It is truly an honour to be elected to represent all the people of Cheswick Village and Stoke Park. I have already held my first residents’ advice surgery and I will continue to stand up for local people over the coming four years.”
Lib Dem candidates have branded South Gloucestershire’s Conservative MPs “completely irresponsible” over their voting on eight Brexit options last night.
Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate, Conservative) and Chris Skidmore (Kingswood, Conservative) both voted to reject all eight options presented to MPs – while Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke, Conservative) voted only in favour of a No Deal Brexit with no agreement and against all seven other proposals.Read more
Councillors Maggie Tyrrell and Shirley Holloway are celebrating with local residents since hearing the news that a planning application has been turned down on the site of Alveston House Hotel at the junction of Alveston Hill and the A38. Site owners had wanted to replace this landmark building at the entrance to the village with a three-storey development of apartments.
Cllr Maggie Tyrrell said “We’re so relieved that the Planning Inspector who heard the Appeal on this application agreed with local people that such a development was wrong for this site. It would have been a very urban look on the edge of the village, with apartments built right to the edge of the site, dominating the corner and completely changing the rural character of the area. The decision to turn the application down was absolutely the right one.”
Cllr Shirley Holloway added “The owners of the hotel have told local people that they now intend to keep the hotel running. I do hope that they can make a success of the business and that local people will support them in this enterprise. We really don’t want to be faced with another planning application like this last one.”
Last night, Sir Vince Cable announced he will be stepping down as leader of the Liberal Democrats in May.
In a statement emailed to members Vince said,
“I indicated last year that once the Brexit story had moved on, and we had fought this year’s crucial local elections in 9,000 seats across England, it would be time for me to make way for a new generation. I set considerable store by having an orderly, business-like, succession unlike the power struggles in the other parties.
“So I wanted you, our members, to know that, assuming Parliament does not collapse into an early General Election, I will ask the party to begin a leadership contest in May.”
Cllr Louise Harris, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Filton and Bradley Stoke, praised the MP for Twickenham.
“While other party leaders have made false promises, vague statements and flip flopped over red lines, the Liberal Democrats have shown leadership and courage in putting livelihoods, public services and jobs before petty party politics through Vince’s stewardship during difficult times.
“Although Vince stepping down is a great loss for the party, we are thankful for his service. However, I’m eager to see what the future holds for our party. We have so many talented, capable MPs and future leaders in the Liberal Democrats. I am in no doubt that the new leader shall rise to the occasion, fill Vince’s big shoes and lead the Liberal Democrats into a new age.”
Council group leader and Parliamentary Candidate for Thornbury and Yate, Claire Young responded.
“Vince has provided stability in a time of great political uncertainty. As party leader he’s offered wisdom and economic expertise not found in any other party.
"I’m looking forward to seeing what is next for us. Here in South Gloucestershire we have a proven track record and I’m excited to showcase our local manifesto in the next few weeks.”