I have to confess to considerable disappointment that Oxfordshire Conservatives were unable to emulate the Party’s performance elsewhere and failed to gain control of the county council.
It remains precisely as hung as it has been for the last four years and hung councils do not work and do not deliver strategic change.
This is how the 63 seats broke down before and after the election on 4 May 2017.
=======Cons Lab Lib Grn Ind
Before 31 15 11 2 4
After 31 14 13 0 5
Change 0 -1 +2 -2 +1
Conservatives exhibited the most churn, losing three high profile and senior members:
On the left is Rodney Rose, former Deputy Leader of the Council, who lost his Charlbury & Wychwood division to a Liberal. In the centre is David Nimmo-Smith, former Cabinet member for the Environment, who lost his Henley Division to a Henley Resident candidate. To the right is Sandy Lovatt, former Chairman of the Audit & Governance Committee and a former Constituency Chairman, who lost his seat to a Liberal.
I am tempted to mis-quote Oscar Wilde and to say that to lose one division may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness; while to lose three is quite unforgiveable.
Thankfully, three Conservative candidate restored the position by snatching seats from Labour. Here are the heroes:
On the left is Tony Ilott, already a Cherwell District Councillor, who took Banbury Hardwick from Labour’s Surinder Shesi. In the centre is Alan Thompson who took Didcot West from Labour’s Nick Hards. On the right is Eddie Reeves who took Banbury Calthorpe from Labour after Mark Cherry jumped from this Division to the safer one of Ruscote. Congratulations to these three candidates who prevented the total disgrace of an overall loss of seats.
I assume the coalition between Conservatives and some Independents will continue. It is interesting to speculate who will assume the mantle of Deputy Leader following the demise of Rodney Rose. He and the Leader, Ian Hudspeth, were both West Oxfordshire members. I assume Ian Hudspeth will continue as Leader despite the election debacle over which he has presided but this may be an opportunity to import some talent from another part of the county as his deputy?
I will return to the Oxfordshire County Council results in a later blog.