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Lib Dems claim victory in Bedford mayor race

Published by Jon Land for in Local Government
Friday 16th October 2009 - 3:53pm

Lib Dems claim victory in Bedford mayor race Lib Dems claim victory in Bedford mayor race

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A Liberal Democrat beat his Tory rival to become Bedford's new directly elected mayor today.

Four of the six original candidates were knocked out this morning and after a second count of voters' second preferences Dave Hodgson beat Parvez Akhtar, polling 13,555 votes to his rival's 11,543.

Mr Hodgson scooped 9,428 votes in the first round of the elections, with Tory candidate Mr Akhtar getting 9,105.

But after counts of voters' second preferences, the Liberal Democrat leader of the party in Bedford gained 4,127 votes to his opponent's 2,438.

Cheers from his supporters drowned out his declaration as mayor when the result was declared at Bedford's Corn Exchange this afternoon.

The victory, which comes just days after Mr Hodgson was visited by party leader Nick Clegg, makes the 49-year-old one of the most powerful Liberal Democrats in the country, controlling the unitary authority's multimillion-pound budget.

His party already controls the council, holding 13 seats compared to nine Conservatives, seven Labour and seven independents.

Speaking after his election, Mr Hodgson said: "I'm elated, and a bit nervous. It's a huge task to take on.

"We've got to get moving straightaway, there's no time to waste.

"This is a great result for the Lib Dems but there's an awful lot of work to be done."

Yesterday, voters visited polling stations to make their choice for the successor to Bedford's first elected mayor, independent Frank Branston, who died in August aged 70.

Earlier today, after a total of 35,807 votes - a turnout of 30.9% - were counted, the town's Labour candidate, James Valentine, was knocked out with just 3,482 votes.

Also unlucky in the race were independent candidates Apu Bagchi, who received 7,631 votes, and Tony Hare, who got 4,316 votes.

Green Party candidate Eve Robinson-Morley gained 1,183 votes.

Labour was the only one of the three major parties not to bring in the "big guns" in the run-up to the election.

Just days ago Mr Clegg visited Bedford to support his candidate, while Tory leader David Cameron came to the town to visit his candidate, Parvez Akhtar, on Monday.

Speaking after he was knocked out earlier today, Labour candidate Mr Valentine said: "It was a disappointing result, there's no hiding that.

"What I discovered on the doorstep was there was a great desire for an independent mayor."

Victorious Lib Dem Mr Hodgson became leader of his party in Bedford in 2007, steering it to victory at this year's local elections.

Today he said his main aim was to make Bedford a "great place to work and to live".

He added: "We shouldn't forget that this election has been brought by the very sad and untimely death of Frank Branston and it will be huge shoes to fill.

"I will do my very best to fulfil Frank's dreams for Bedford."




Commented 3 days ago

Dave Hogdson deserves congratulations. Thought it was a narrow -Lib Dem 9428 and Con 9105 – with Conservatives. Nevertheless it is a political system that elected the Mayor. The difficult task is to select a team of advisors and Cabinet members. Deputy Mayor also makes a lot of difference. It would be Lib-Dem agenda on which the Mayor is elected. Previous Mayor was independent but created a party and dumped it after winning the second time. He appointed some one rejected by Labour to be deputy and one wonders whose agenda they were following. We hope that Lib-Dem Mayor will have firm commitment to Party’s agenda. Where the accountability lies at the end of the day. I am in full agreement with some of the comments that there is a sizable bulk of media columnist who knowing that this PM and the Government is on its last leg and no matter which way we look it has run its course.
No one can predict out come of the General election based on few local results which may be excellent for the party. For UK it is well overdue to have a creditable opposition in the Parliament. Given the trend in the pools; that is the realistic target and if Lb Dem wavers as the past has shown to be; giving impression that were fighting Tory party and soft on Labour Party, it will end far behind.
The Independent candidate Apu Bagchi, who had some difficulty to put it mildly with the Labour’s powerful group and joined the former Mayor as his deputy. He appeared have largely relied on this factor as well as some ‘minority’ votes. He seemed to have forgotten that the Labour Party was not behind him. The bearded person seems to be liked, so [erhaps Apu could have grown a beared to get more votes! Equally, in the climat of ‘British Jobs for British People’, Tory also made a surprisingly a ‘positive’ action choice but against the wrong political wind. But they deserve credit for this. Locally, Labour candidate has campaigned well but I think the National image has been too much on the party locally. The Party seems to have not been forgiven by the voters still for its high handed approached when in power.
The result must place some worries in the corner of the local MP Mr Patrick Hall, he needs to look at the Lib-Dem factor more closely if he has to win next time.
Dave Hogdson congratulations.

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