Tories lose their majority on Hertsmere Borough Council

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Tories lose their majority on Hertsmere Borough Council

Thursday's local election result, which left Hertsmere under no overall control, saw the Conservatives lose 13 seats, as Labour and the Lib Dems both made gains

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Hustings at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue ahead of local election in Hertsmere
Hustings at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue ahead of local election in Hertsmere

The Conservatives have lost control of Hertsmere council, which the party had run since 1999.

As Thursday’s local election results were confirmed it emerged that the Tories had lost 13 seats in the borough, with its large Jewish community, leaving no single party in control.

Results showed the Tories won 16 seats, Labour 14, and the Lib Dems, nine.

It was the first time Hertsmere has held all-out elections since 2019, with Theresa May as prime minister.

Early indications of the vote in areas with the biggest Jewish populations appeared to show floating voters willing to cast their votes for the Keir Starmer led Labour Party again, or for the Lib Dems.

But the Tory vote appeared to remain solid in areas of the borough where the party has traditionally performed well.

On Friday there was mounting speculation that Labour and the Lib Dems could announce they were forming a coalition in a bid to run the council.

With Labour as the second largest party, a coalition could leave the way clear for Jeremy Newmark, the Labour Group leader, to become leader of the council.

Newmark had previously been chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, before resigning on ill health grounds in 2013.

He also once led the Jewish Labour Movement.

JLM activists had been amongst those out knocking doors in Hertsmere for Labour ahead of the election.

As one of three Hertsmere Borough Council members representing Borehamwood Cowley Hill, Newmark said the election results were “fantastic for the Labour Party, and for the residents of Hertsmere.

“He added:”“They voted for a council that reflects the political plurality of the borough and we will now be working incredibly hard to fulfil our promises.”

Lib Dem leader Paul Richards, who was elected in Bushey North, said: “We would like to thank all those in Bushey who have placed their confidence in us.

“We’ve given residents a clear and positive choice – good ideas, based in our liberal values of equality and democracy.

“Our aim has been simple: the more Lib Dem councillors we could get elected, the more we can do to improve people’s lives, protect our local environment, and make this borough a better and fairer place to live.”

The election results showed Labour making gains in Borehamwood and Potters Bar, while the Lib Dems made gains in Bushey Park and Bushey St James.

On Friday, Mike Katz, JLM’s national chair, tweeted:”Tories losing control in Hertsmere hugely significant- not just because it’s Deputy PM Dowden’s patch.”

Large Jewish population there, in places like Borehamwood. Just like we saw with Barnet council last year, Jews are no longer afraid of voting Labour, or of Labour winning.”

Across England, Labour performed well, picked up significant wins in Plymouth, Medway and Stoke.

The Tories were on course for a disastrous set of results, while the Lib Dems also made significant gains.

Hertsmere Conservatives were contacted for comment.

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