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News Archive > General > Political landscape turned on its head

Political landscape turned on its head

By Natasha Swift 10th May 2017

Political landscape turned on its head
CELEBRATIONS: Conservative PPC Steve Double and team

HISTORY was made at the Cornwall Council elections on Friday as the Conservatives claimed wards in Clay Country never before held by the party and Par gave their backing to Cornwall’s youngest councillor as the political landscape in St Austell was turned on its head.

The St Austell Voice spent the day at the count in Wadebridge where voters made it clear that it was time for a change in St Austell, Par, Fowey, St Blazey, and the clay villages as the Conservatives won the most seats in the local authority elections.

The Tories now have 46 out of 122 seats followed by the Liberal Democrats with 37 seats and 30 for Independent councillors.

Five seats are held by Labour and Mebyon Kernow have four.

Following the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Rogerson, the 123rd seat - Bodmin St Petroc - will be contested following a later date.

The winners of the day were the Conservatives which is now the largest group on Cornwall Council.

The Lib Dem’s prospective parliamentary candidate Stephen Gilbert, and Conservative PPC Steve Double, were both present at the Royal Cornwall Showground to offer moral support.

Just before 10.30am the St Dennis and Nanpean division count got underway kickstarting the day’s events closely followed by Penwithick and Boscoppa and then Mevagissey.

The count for the Bethel division was next to begin at 12.35pm which was neck and neck between holder of the seat Lib Dem Malcolm Brown, Independent Graham Walker and the Conservative’s Crystal Pearce.

Light-hearted humour from deputy returning officer, Richard Williams, started the announcements of the day’s winners as he compared the event to the Oscars.

One of the early winners was St Enoder councillor Dick Cole, who reclaimed his seat by a majority of 947 after securing 1,090 votes compared to the Tories Rachel Andrews who came in second with 143 votes and the Lib Dem’s candidate taking 74 votes.

The Mebyon Kernow leader said: “I am chuffed and really pleased that my local community has put faith in me and I look forward to carrying on working for the St Enoder Parish.”

The first declaration from the St Austell patch was announced at 1.10pm when the first Conservative in living memory won the St Stephen-in-Brannel electoral division with 484 votes.

It was a close fight between Mike McLening, who is already a councillor for St Stephen-in-Brannel Parish Council, and the Lib Dem’s David Simpson, but it was clear from the ballot cards piling up behind his name that Mr McLening was a dead cert to claim the division.

To a round of applause and cheers, Mr McLening said: “I was going to sing but I would like to pay tribute to my two fellow parish councillors from St Stephen. We all work hard together and someone had to win.”

Mr Simpson, who is also a parish councillor for St Stephen, came in second with 260 votes behind him.

Third was Independent Keith Wonnacott, who also sits on the parish council.

Speaking from Wadebridge, Mr Simpson told the Voice: “I don’t believe this is a local vote. I think it’s a Brexit vote. This is not about local issues it is about Brexit.

“People are not quick to forget. We are making a come back but it is going to be a slow process.”

It soon became apparent as the ballot boxes were emptied that this wasn’t the only seat the Conservatives were on their way to winning.

At 1.30pm the outcome of the St Blazey division was ready to be revealed.

Taking the stage by herself as opponents Roy Taylor, Lib Dem, and Labour’s Stuart Wheeler, kept a low profile, the Tory’s Pauline Giles was announced as the area’s new Cornwall councillor with 484 votes as Mr Taylor failed to win back his seat with just 311 votes.

“I won’t let you down” was the message to the people of St Blazey from Mrs Giles after being declared the winner.

Fighting the corner for people in Bethel paid off for the Lib Dem’s Malcolm Brown as he retained his division for another four years.

Mr Brown received 433 votes closely followed by Graham Walker, Independent, with 411 votes.

Mr Brown said: “Having won by 12 votes four years ago I have had a swing of almost 100 per cent in my direction which I’m extremely happy with. Thank you very much to the electors of Bethel for giving their confidence to me.”

But putting joking aside, Mr Brown added: “The main message politically I want to give is that Graham Walker and I were both candidates of the centre left.

“The centre left polled two thirds of the votes in the Bethel division and I am to make sure that we do the same in the general election in five week’s time.”

Fellow Lib Dem Jackie Bull was next to find out her fate as the residents of Poltair reinstated her to the divisions she has fought hard to improve over the last four years.

Cheered on by her son Lib Dem PPC Mr Gilbert, Mrs Bull was declared the winner with 509 votes.

Conservative candidate, Mike Thompson, came second with 322 votes and Labour’s Andrea Lanxon third after getting 268 votes.

Mrs Bull also had a strong message to the Conservatives telling them that they wouldn’t stand a chance if the centre and centre left united.

Another familiar face returning to County Hall was Independent Fred Greenslade, who pipped his opponents to the post to win the St Dennis and Nanpean division.

Mr Greenslade beat off stiff competition from chair of St Dennis Parish Council, Julia Clarke, to keep hold of his seat with 363 votes.

He thanked his wife and daughter for seeing him through the campaign, adding: “It’s been the most close campaign that I have ever fought for.”

But not all divisions were such a close fought fight as Conservative Tom French stormed to victory against his opponents for the St Austell Bay seat.

Mr French will once again represent the ward after receiving 958 votes.

The Lib Dem’s Nicky Oxenham came in second with 423 votes.

Mr French commended his opponents for a clean fight and good competition.

It was then time for another Conservative gain as St Mewan gave their support to Cherilyn Williams who thrashed the Lib Dem’s Lord Teverson by 170 votes.

Mrs Williams had 713 votes compared to Lord Teversons 543.

It was also time for a change in Mount Charles as the Conservative’s Richard Pears won the division after receiving 478 votes.

The Lib Dem’s Peter Bishop came second with 251 votes, but Independent Gary King did not manage to win over residents to reclaim his old division after coming third with 214 votes.

Paul Roberts for Labour took 119 votes while UKIP’s Andrea Gray came in last with just 72 votes.

One of the biggest surprises of the day came in the form of Jordan Rowse, who was elected as Cornwall councillor for Par and St Blazey Gate at the age of just 20.

The youngest councillor in Cornwall beat the Lib Dem’s Doug Scrafton who was hoping to keep hold of the division by 33 votes.

Mr Rowse said: “It’s a privilege to be able to represent the area I grew up in and I can assure you that I’ll do my very best.

“I want to thank every single person who took the time to go out and a bigger thank you to every person who put their trust in me and voted for me, all 512 of you.”

Mevagissey had no doubts about who would be getting their backing as 1,182 votes ensured James Mustoe was re-elected.

There was a clear winner of the two horse race between the Conservative and the Lib Dem’s Garth Shephard before the announcement was even made as ballot papers began to stack up behind Mr Mustoe’s name.  

Crying tears of happiness, Mr Mustoe said: “It’s been an emotional and hard last few weeks on the campaign trail.

“I would like to think that over the last couple of years the people living in the parishes of St Goran, Pentewan and Mevagissey have rewarded my hard work with an increased majority from 67 two years’ ago to 833 today.

“I look forward to going out there and working with our young new councillors to shake things up at County Hall.”

Fighting to reopen Fowey Community Hospital seemed to have struck a cord with people in the Fowey and Tywardreath division as they elected Dr Andy Virr with 855 votes.

He beat the Lib Dem’s David Hughes who managed 509 votes after fighting to retain his seat and former St Mewan councillor Malcolm Harris who came in third place with 365 votes.

He said: “This is a hugely humbling moment to have been elected by friends, family and residents of Fowey and Tywardreath and Golant.”

There was no change in Penwithick and Boscoppa as Mebyon Kernow’s Matt Luke kept hold of the division with 397 votes.

Mr Luke could not attend on the day as he was roofing in Padstow, but he worked tirelessly on the campaign trail in the lead up to his re-election despite dislocating his shoulder.

The Conservative’s Jamie Hanlon was just beat to the post after receiving 381 votes while the Lib Dem’s Robert Irwin came in third place with 174 votes.

The divisions of Gover and Roche also voted in favour of retaining their councillors with Independents Sandra Heyward and John Wood keeping hold of the wards.

Mrs Heyward received 390 votes to secure her seat back at County Hall closely followed by the Conservative’s Sunny Krishan who received 309 votes.

The Lib Dem’s Tim Styles came in third place with 144 votes followed by UKIP’s David Mathews who only managed 76 votes and the Green Party’s Greg Matthews getting 57 votes.

Mrs Heyward thanked everyone who had supported and voted for her.

While 601 votes ensured Mr Wood remained as the councillor for Roche.

Mebyon Kernow’s Brian Higman came second with 369 votes followed by the Conservative’s Andrew Hannan with 140 votes.

As the day drew on, tensions began to flare up between the different political sides.
But it all proved too much for Lib Dem candidate, Jim Candy, who refused to shake the hand of his Conservative opponent Richard Pugh leaving onlookers fearing the pair would come to blows.

When Mr Pugh approached Mr Candy after being declared the winner of the Trelawny division, he shunned his offer of a hand and instead walked off stage.

He then yelled at Mr Pugh “no you’ve been nasty to me” before leaving the venue.

After the pantomime antics subsided the result for the final ward in the area - Bugle - was announced at 5.40pm.

The clear winner was the Conservative’s Sally-Anne Saunders with 488 votes followed by MK’s Garry Tregidga who received 360 votes.

Councillors started their first day of training at County Hall on Monday.

By Natasha Swift 10th May 2017

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