05:27 Friday 23 May 2014

Elections 2014: Labour takes control of Cambridge City Council


Labour pledged to build a fairer Cambridge after taking control of the city council, ending 14 years of Liberal Democrat rule.

Colin Rosenstiel, who was suspended from his party after being charged with hitting a 7-year-old child, was among seven Liberal Democrats who lost their seats.

Mr Rosenstiel, who denies wrongdoing, was first elected in Market more than 40 years ago but came third behind Labour and the Greens.

In total Labour gained six seats, securing an eight-strong majority and booting out two members of the Liberal Democrat executive – citywide 20mph limit mastermind Tim Ward in Arbury and transgender campaigner Sarah Brown in Petersfield.

Mayor Paul Saunders lost in Romsey, while independent Marie-Louise Holland won a Liberal Democrat seat in Castle, joining her husband Cllr John Hipkin on the authority.

Labour leader Cllr Lewis Herbert said his party’s first task would be to reverse the closure of the council’s pest control team which was pushed through by the Liberal Democrats in February. A new committee charged with tackling the city’s housing affordability crisis will also be set up straight away.

Cllr Herbert said: “Our priorities are to tackle the housing issue, to share the benefits of growth and prosperity across the city, and to maintain the quality of basic services like street cleaning, despite facing a 40 per cent cut in our funding.

“It’s not an easy time, and I’m not wildly celebratory, but we’ll get to work tomorrow. I think the city will see a new ‘broom’, because the council has got tired.

“The city is potentially a rich one but has massive challenges and we will make sure the extra income economic growth generates is distributed more fairly, and that areas we saw as being neglected as the power base of the Liberal Democrats in the city shrunk get as good a deal as the areas of greatest growth.”

Cllr Herbert said work would start soon on implementing other policies including a crackdown on littering and dog fouling, promotion of the ‘living wage’, and a campaign to discourage sale of high-strength beers, ciders and lagers.

Other gains for Labour included King’s Hedges and East Chesterton, where Peter Sarris beat Liberal Democrat Zoe O’Connell by just 10 votes.

However, the Liberal Democrats clung on in Newnham, Trumpington and West Chesterton – winning the latter by 19 votes following a recount, when the first count had indicated a Labour victory.

Cllr Tim Bick, the Liberal Democrat leader, argued his party had left a “great legacy” and that his councillors would now take up the role of “constructive opposition” with “just the same vigour and commitment”.

Arguing national politics had played a key role in the result, Cllr Bick said: “It is very tough to keep control of a council when your party is in national government. It is obviously a new experience for us.

“But it happened to Labour three years into Tony Blair’s government when they lost control to us. History shows that this is no predictor of what happens in the following general election.

“We will continue to fight and speak for liberal Cambridge, returning Julian Huppert as the city’s MP in next year’s general election and campaigning to get back in charge of the city council.”

Although UKIP made big gains across the country, the party had only one candidate in the city, coming third in East Chesterton. The Tories were unable to add to their one seat, and the Greens remained without a councillor.

The new administration will be voted in on June 12.

Cambridge City Council

Lab 25 (+6)

Lib Dem 14 (-7)

Ind 2 (+1)

Con 1 (-)

Turnout: 41.7%


Colin Rosenstiel laments ‘brutal’ treatment at hands of Liberal Democrats and media as he loses Cambridge City Council seat

Full Cambridge City Council results

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