Results of the Local Elections held on May 6th, 2021
Conservatives take back Basildon Council!
Well, that’s a wrap on our long-awaited local elections and what a stonker of an election it was! It was a bit of a mixed bag for me personally, as I was unsuccessful in my bid for election to Essex County Council, but I came home from our extremely odd and extremely long all-day count on Friday tired but elated. As you can see from the above graphic, the Conservative Party have regained control of Basildon Council, gaining three seats from Labour and one from the Independents.
Having retained our seats in Billericay and Wickford, we made gains in Basildon, Laindon, Pitsea and won the Langdon Hills by-election. Although Labour held on to the seats they were defending in Fryerns and Lee Chapel North, they lost Pitsea South-East, Vange and St Martin’s, the latter costing the Labour Mayor, David Burton-Sampson, his seat. The outgoing Labour Leader of the Council, Cllr Gavin Callaghan, only narrowly held on to his own Pitsea North-West seat and has already resigned the leadership.
The vote of the (Smithite) Independents more or less held up, with Cllr Kerry Smith re-elected comfortably to his Essex County Council seat and he also managed to get two of his factotums elected in Langdon Hills and Nethermayne, though failed to pick up the second Langdon Hills seat. The ‘non-aligned’ Deputy Mayor, Derrick Fellowes, who abandoned his Nethermayne seat, failed to win re-election in Langdon Hills.
The Conservatives remain the largest party on the Council but now on 22 seats, which is the magic number needed to command an overall majority, so we are now back in control! Labour have been reduced from 15 seats to 12. The Smithites are back to full strength, with four seats, and we still have two Wickford Independents and two Absolute Independents.
I have not gone through all the results for Essex County Council, so do not yet know the full extent of any changes to their composition but our five county divisions here in Basildon Borough remain largely unchanged and the Conservatives have retained control at County Hall.
The detailed breakdown of results is as follows:
BILLERICAY EAST – Con HOLD
SULLIVAN, Stuart (Con) – 2,412 (70%) *Elected
HILTON, Tracey (Lab) – 585 (17%)
MANTERFIELD, Karen (LibD) – 364 (11%)
McCAFFERY, Susan (UKIP) – 88 (3%)
Turnout: 36% (+4)
Cllr Stuart Sullivan
I was delighted to see my ward colleague Stuart Sullivan (pictured) returned in Billericay East with an increased majority of 1,827, having seen a 6-point swing to the Conservatives from 2019. The Labour share of the vote was up by 9 points, seemingly the beneficiary of the absence of the Green candidate, who came second last time. The Liberal, Karen Manterfield, increased her own vote share by 3% but was still a very distant third. The return of former UKIP town councillor, Susan McCaffery, was entirely negligible.
BILLERICAY WEST – Con HOLD
TURNER, Phil (Con) – 1,885 (50%) *Elected
SAINSBURY, Edward (LibD) – 1,687 (45%)
GODDARD, David (Lab) – 199 (5%)
Turnout: 40% (+5)
Cllr Phil Turner
Former Conservative leader Phil Turner (pictured) was returned in Billericay West but there is no denying that the Lib Dem, Edward Sainsbury, put up one heck of a fight. Phil has a majority of just 198 (over a thousand votes slashed from his 2016 majority) and Mr Sainsbury, who contested the seat in 2019 and gave us a fright then as well, achieved a 6-point swing to the Liberals. Labour put in a nominal showing. Clearly, the Liberals are gaining traction in Billericay West and Mr Sainsbury and three of his colleagues were successful in winning seats in the West Ward of Billericay Town Council, which will now give them a platform. More needs to be done to make the Conservatives in Billericay more visible and promote the good work that we are doing in the town because I know that all three of my ward neighbours in Billericay West are working hard for our residents.
BURSTEAD – Con HOLD
MOORE, Richard (Con) – 2,394 (76%) *Elected
REID, Malcolm (Lab) – 397 (13%)
CLARK, Laura (LibD) – 362 (11%)
Turnout: 36% (+1)
Cllr Dr Richard Moore
Dr Richard Moore (pictured) was re-elected in Burstead with a increased majority of 1,997. Although our vote share was down on 2019, there were only two candidates that year; us and Labour. Nonetheless, our share of the vote was only 7 points down and both Labour and Liberals were left trailing in Richard’s wake. Richard’s was the largest majority and the biggest vote-share of the night, confirming Burstead’s status as the ‘safest’ seat on Basildon Council.
THE BILLERICAY & BURSTEAD DIVISION (x2) – Con HOLD (x2)
HEDLEY, Anthony (Con) – 6,311 (34%) *Elected
MOORE, Richard (Con) – 5,364 (29%) *Elected
SAINSBURY, Edward (LibD) – 2,751 (15%)
CLARK, Laura (LibD) – 1,695 (9%)
HILTON, Tracey (Lab) – 1,165 (6%)
REID, Malcolm (Lab) – 930 (5%)
McCAFFERY, Susan (UKIP) – 315 (2%)
Turnout: 38% (+5)
Cllr Anthony Hedley
Our incumbent Essex county councillors, Anthony Hedley (pictured) and Richard Moore (see above) were comfortably re-elected with a combined share of the vote of 63% (6 points down on 2017, which is probably attributable to the Liberal surge in Billericay West). Nevertheless, Richard came in 2,613 votes ahead of Mr Sainsbury. Labour and UKIP put in a nominal showing.
FRYERNS – Lab HOLD
BROWN, Adele (Lab) – 974 (41%) *Elected
SANDHU, Sandeep (Con) – 786 (33%)
HOWARD, Jim (BCRP) – 337 (14%)
WOODROW, Max (RUK) – 210 (9%)
HOWARD, Vivien (LibD) – 66 (3%)
Turnout: 23% (+4)
Labour Deputy Leader, Cllr Adele Brown, was re-elected to her formerly ‘safe’ Labour seat of Fryerns with a reduced majority of just 188 votes and the Labour vote share slashed by 14 points. Our valiant candidate, Sandeep Sandhu (pictured), put in a strong showing, increasing the Tory share of the vote in this seat, previously regarded as a Labour stronghold. Newcomer Jim Howard, representing the newly-formed Basildon Community Residents Party (BCRP), sadly failed to make a breakthrough, along with the rebranded Brexit Party (Reform UK). Councillor Brown was re-elected, despite her role in promoting the Basildon Town Centre tower blocks but, fortunately, our gains elsewhere mean that her reign of terror as Chairman of Planning is now at an end. The Lib Dems were entirely nominal here, securing less than a hundred votes.
LAINDON PARK – Con GAIN from Ind
WINGFIELD, Kevin (Con) – 1,545 (55%) *Elected
STANBROOK, Angela (Lab) – 765 (27%)
LOW, Tony (Ind) – 155 (5%)
DALE, Mark (BCRP_ – 144 (5%)
McCARTHY, Stephen (LibD) – 100 (4%)
SOUTHGATE, Fred (UKIP) – 65 (2%)
BATEMAN, Christopher (FBM) – 57 (2%)
Turnout: 29% (+6)
Cllr Kevin Wingfield
In what was easily the most personally satisfying result of the day, my dear pal Kevin Wingfield (pictured) was elected as the new Councillor for Laindon Park with an absolutely stonking majority! Despite the presence of no less than seven candidates on the ballot paper, Kev managed to secure more than half the popular vote and won a majority of 780 votes over his Labour rival. All others were left eating his dust, including ‘Independent’ (jilted Tory) candidate Tony Low, whose wildcard candidacy more or less cost us the seat in 2019. But his vote collapsed this time by a whopping 28 points. Labour fared little better, having won the seat in 2019, their vote was down 9 points. The other candidates, to be frank, are hardly worth mentioning. I am overjoyed that ‘Councillor Wingfield’ will be joining us on the Conservative benches. He will be an absolutely brilliant councillor for Laindon Park and I am made up for him, and the people of Laindon. They were treated appallingly by the outgoing Labour Administration – particularly over the Leader’s shabby handling of the Laindon Community Centre – and they have made their voices heard, loud and clear!
LEE CHAPEL NORTH – Lab HOLD
HARRISON, Alex (Lab) – 966 (39%) *Elected
SHUKLA, Deepak (Con) – 921 (37%)
QUESTED, Kay (BCRP) – 354 (14%)
FRIPP, Lewis (RUK) – 123 (5%)
CHANDLER, Michael (LibD) – 113 (5%)
Turnout: 24% (+7)
In this agonising result, our candidate Deepak Shukla (pictured) came within a hair’s breadth of winning this usually staunchly safe Labour seat, vacated by the retiring Labour councillor, Andrew Gordon. After a recount, Alex Harrison was elected with a majority of just 45 votes! Deepak increased our vote share by 11 points and went home with his head held high… Well, not quite straight home, as amazingly his wife was in hospital in labour at the time! Deepak may not have gained the seat but he did gain a new baby daughter later in the day and we are delighted for him, although obviously disappointed that he will not be joining us on the Council. Next time – Lee Chapel North is now very firmly in play and is no longer a seat Labour can simply ignore and take for granted.
THE LAINDON PARK & FRYERNS DIVISION (x2) – Con HOLD x1 and Lab HOLD x1
HENRY, Jeff (Con) – 3,206 (25%) *Elected
BROWN, Adele (Lab) – 2,668 (20%) *Elected
SCHRADER, Andrew (Con) – 2,558 (20%)
DAVIES, Allan (Lab) – 2,358 (18%)
LOW, Tony (Ind) – 493 (4%)
FRIPP, Lewis (RUK) – 413 (3%)
SOUTHGATE, Fred (UKIP) – 369 (3%)
SAGGERS, Norma (RUK) – 331 (3%)
HOWARD, Vivien (LibD) – 324 (2%)
CHANDLER, Michael (LibD) – 321 (2%)
Turnout: 25% (+1)
Cllr Jeff Henry
A mixed bag for us, and for Labour, in the Laindon Park & Fryerns Division, as my friend Cllr Jeff Henry (pictured) was resoundingly re-elected to his county seat, topping the poll with a majority of 538 over his new Labour colleague, Adele Brown, who not only regained her Fryerns seat but displaced her ward colleague and previous Labour incumbent county councillor, Allan Davies, who fell back into fourth place. As you can see, Councillor Brown narrowly pipped me into third place and denied me the second seat. This is clearly hugely disappointing for me. I rolled the dice and always knew it would be tough to snatch the second county seat. Although we have held both seats in the past, the division has tended to ‘split’ this way in recent years but I massively enjoyed the campaign and would have been genuinely honoured to represent the division at County Hall. I thought I had it there for a second but was just 110 votes shy. Jeff will continue to fly the flag for Laindon. He enjoyed a 6-point swing and has increased the size of his majority. The result will have been a bitter blow to Allan Davies, who represented the seat for four years. The other candidates made little impact.
LANGDON HILLS (x2) – Con HOLD x1 and Ind HOLD x1
ROBBINS, Val (Ind) – 1,023 (23%) *Elected
ALLEN, Christopher (Con) – 949 (21%) *Elected
SANSOM, Charlie (Con) – 840 (19%)
BROWN, Walt (Ind) – 732 (16%)
FELLOWES, Derrick (n/a) – 363 (8%)
ZWENGUNDE, Clarence (Lab) – 276 (6%)
NICKLIN, Timothy (LibD) – 248 (6%)
X, None Of The Above (n/a) – 46 (1%)
Turnout: 38% (+8)
Cllr Chris Allen
Two seats were up for grabs in this nail-biting contest, which was actually the last seat to be counted. There were no incumbents, as such, owing to Conservative councillor Stephen Hillier’s decision to retire after 20 years and the sad death of Smithite councillor Imelda Clancy earlier this year, triggering a by-election for the second seat. Kerry Smith-endorsed candidate Val Robbins topped the poll with a majority of only 74 over second-place Conservative candidate Chris Allen (pictured), who takes the second seat. Consequently, Chris is deemed to have won the by-election and will effectively be completing the late Councillor Clancy’s term, meaning he will need to seek re-election next year when her term would have been up. Electorally, this seat is all over the place. Taking them as direct swaps, Councillor Robbins’ majority is a far cry from the 628-vote majority secured by her late predecessor in 2018. Contrariwise, Councillor Allen’s majority of 217 over the second Smithite candidate – Walt Brown – is a marked improvement on Steve’s in 2016, when he won re-election by only 2 votes!
Spare a thought for plucky first-time Conservative candidate Charlie Sansom, who fought a spirited and full-throated campaign in Langdon Hills, having initially been selected to succeed Steve Hillier more than two years ago, whereas Chris was only selected recently to contest the by-election. They both worked hard but it is clearly a disappointing outcome for Charlie. But nobody can have failed to be impressed by Charlie’s energy and enthusiasm and I think we shall be seeing a lot more of him. One person we will not be seeing a lot more of, thankfully, is outgoing Deputy Mayor and Gavin Callaghan sycophant Derrick Fellowes, the nominally non-aligned, non-Smithite, ‘Ukipendent’ lackey of the Labour Party. I shan’t mince my words, folks; good riddance.
Labour and the Liberals were not even really in this fight but kudos to ‘Mr None Of The Above X’ and his makeshift abstention option, gleefully put to use by 46 disaffected Langdon Hills residents.
NETHERMAYNE – Ind HOLD
GREEN, Hazel (Ind) – 1,448 (46%) *Elected
COTTRELL, Mark (Con) – 646 (20%)
BAKER, Michael (Lab) – 527 (17%)
WHITWELL, Lauren (BCRP) – 394 (12%)
NICE, Stephen (LibD) – 113 (4%)
SAGGERS, Norma (RUK) – 39 (1%)
Turnout: 31% (+1)
While the Smith brand may have taken a knock in Langdon Hills, sadly no such luck in his main stomping ground of Nethermayne, where he now holds all three borough seats, cementing Nethermayne’s status as Kerry Smith’s personal fiefdom. Hazel Green, who had been elected in Laindon Park as UKIP in 2016, but who subsequently defected to Councillor Smith’s ‘Independent’ outfit, has done the ‘chicken run’ to Nethermayne to get re-elected there on his coattails. She is now a Nethermayne councillor, with a resounding majority of 802 over plucky runner-up, Conservative candidate Mark Cottrell. First-time borough candidate Mark worked very hard but, sadly, it was not enough to convince the residents of Nethermayne to back a candidate actually capable of independent thought. Although we saw a massive 13-point swing to the Conservatives, another voiceless cipher for Kerry Smith has been elected – albeit with a pretty marked reduction in his share of the vote. In 2019, his chosen candidate – Cllr Pauline ‘Abstention’ Kettle – was elected with 73% of the vote and an insane majority of 1,800; making Nethermayne as safe for the Smithites as Burstead is for the Tories! While a majority of 802 certainly does the trick, Mark has shaved nearly a thousand votes off it and pipped Labour into third place. He should be pleased with that. Perennial Lib Dem candidate, Steve Nice, is nothing if not persistent but a return to the days when all three Nethermayne seats were held by Liberals continues to elude him. Dear old Norma Saggers, flying the flag for the now-Farageless Farage vanity vehicle, Reform UK, was barely involved with a paltry 39 votes, the lowest number of votes received by any single candidate in any ward anywhere in the borough.
THE WESTLEY HEIGHTS DIVISION – Ind HOLD
SMITH, Kerry (Ind) – 3,655 (61%) *Elected
SANSOM, Charlie (Con) – 1,404 (23%)
ADENIRAN, Olukayode (Lab) – 627 (10%)
NICKLIN, Timothy (LibD) – 205 (3%)
X, None Of The Above (n/a) – 98 (2%)
MURRAY, David (TUSC) – 49 (1%)
Turnout: 35% (+1)
If Nethermayne was bad, Westley Heights was even worse, where the man himself, Cllr Kerry Smith, the leader of the so-called ‘Independent’ faction, was re-elected to his county seat in a result that more or less replicated the result in 2017. Councillor Smith was returned with a majority of 2,251 over Conservative runner-up Charlie Sansom (pictured). Sadly, despite running a spirited campaign against Councillor Smith, it did not make a dent – in fact, the Conservative share of the vote is slightly down on last time. Likewise, Labour are more or less completely static, while the Liberals lost out somewhat to ‘Mr X’ and the pointless ‘Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’ candidate. So, I’m afraid it’s another four years of Councillor Smith taking credit for literally everything Essex County Council does, whilst calling them ‘Tory squires of North Essex’ and slagging them off left, right and centre. Ho-hum.
PITSEA NORTH-WEST – Lab HOLD
CALLAGHAN, Gavin (Lab) – 1,101 (47%) *Elected
TERSON, Stuart (Con) – 987 (42%)
HOGG, Jake (BCRP) – 213 (9%)
HOWARD, Martin (LibD) – 63 (3%)
Turnout: 25% (+5)
In possibly the most frustrating result of the evening, Labour Leader Gavin Callaghan clung on to his Pitsea North-West seat with his majority more than halved to just 114 votes and his leadership in tatters. Having dropped hints in recent days that he was preparing to be deprived of his seat, our candidate Stuart Terson (pictured) just narrowly failed to unseat him, although Stuart did achieve a 4-point swing to the Conservatives and, on the upside, within hours of the count starting, Councillor Callaghan had conceded defeat, resigned as Leader of the Labour Group, posted a long and typically graceless swansong on social media, completely exhonerating himself of any responsibility for the bloodbath that was surrounding him, and announced he would be deleting his Facebook account. I wish I could be more magnanimous in victory but, frankly, I have no sympathy for Callaghan whatsoever. He is entirely the author of his own destruction and deserves every single thing that has befallen him. He is responsible for a great deal of the toxicity of Basildon politics and my only comfort in the fact that he will now linger on for some time, languishing on the Labour backbenches, is that he gets to sit back and watch as we pull his noxious schemes apart.
I predict a by-election in Pitsea North-West next year. If he even sticks it out that long.
PITSEA SOUTH-EAST – Con GAIN from Lab
CANHAM, Gary (Con) – 1,305 (47%) *Elected
ANSELL, Andrew (Lab) – 1,238 (45%)
TOOLEY, Daniel (RUK) – 95 (3%)
LANCASTER, Peter (LibD) – 73 (3%)
BREEDON, Simon (Ind) – 61 (2%)
Turnout: 30% (+4)
Cllr Gary Canham
In an early and very welcome gain, former Pitsea Conservative councillor, Gary Canham (pictured), has been elected back onto Basildon Council, defeating the incumbent Labour councillor in Pitsea South-East, Andy Ansell, with a majority of 67, in what was a very hotly contested fight. Mr Ansell was originally elected in the 2018 by-election and Gary has overturned a Labour majority of just 8 votes on that occasion. With this victory, Pitsea South-East is now, once again, an ‘All Blue’ ward, with Gary joining the Pitsea dream team of Luke Mackenzie and Craig Rimmer. The other three candidates, frankly, were not even really in this fight, with less than a hundred votes each.
ST MARTIN’S – Con GAIN from Lab
ADEMUYIWA, Davida (Con) – 697 (40%) *Elected
BURTON-SAMPSON, David (Lab) – 675 (38%)
RACKLEY, Patricia (BCRP) – 309 (18%)
JENKINS, Philip (LibD) – 83 (5%)
Turnout: 25% (+4)
Cllr Davida Ademuyiwa
I said it! I’ve been saying it for TEN YEARS, since I first stood there myself way back in 2011. I have always said that, if properly worked, St Martin’s could be ‘flipped’! It is a tiny little two-member ward, you can leaflet it in an afternoon, and Labour take it entirely for granted – with good reason; it has literally never elected a Conservative councillor… until now.
In one of the first – and possibly most groundbreaking – result of the day, Conservative candidate Davida Ademuyiwa (pictured) unseated the incumbent Labour Mayor, David Burton-Sampson, with a majority of 22 votes. Labour’s vote was down 9 points and Davida overturned a majority of 238 to deprive the Mayor of his seat. To be perfectly honest, I feel somewhat for Mayor Burton-Sampson. He is a decent enough guy and I have always found him friendly, affable and decent. But, sadly, he could not escape his willing complicity in many of Gavin Callaghan’s outrageous antics and was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the Administration’s deeply unpopular plans for Basildon Town Centre and now those chickens have come home to roost, coupled with Davida’s tireless campaigning over the past two years. Former Labour councillor for St Martin’s turned BCRP candidate, Pat Rackley, came a distant third and mainly seems to have taken votes from the Liberal, poor old Phil Jenkins (also a former councillor). She doubtlessly snatched a few from the Mayor too and, for that, we thank her! I am delighted that Davida is joining the Tory benches and am sure she will make a great addition as the first, ever, Conservative Councillor for St Martin’s.
VANGE – Con GAIN from Lab
ADESHILE, Yetunde (Con) – 749 (45%) *Elected
McGURRAN, Aidan (Lab) – 648 (39%)
RACKLEY, Phil (BCRP) – 220 (13%)
SMITH, Peter (LibD) – 50 (3%)
Turnout: 24% (+5)
Cllr Yetunde Adeshile
In another stunning early gain, Gavin Callaghan’s attack dog, smug former newspaperman Aidan McGurran (aka The Mirror’s ‘Lenny Lotto’), lost his Vange seat to local community activist Yetunde Adeshile (pictured) with a majority of 101, overturning McGurran’s narrow 26-vote majority, which he won over Yetunde in a by-election in 2019. Words can hardly express how beyond delighted I am that Yetunde is finally joining us on Basildon Council, after a couple of really close previous attempts. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be an outstanding Councillor for Vange. As with St Martin’s, the BCRP candidate was a distant third but may well have taken enough votes off of McGurran to allow us to unseat him – in which case, our old friend former Labour councillor Phil Rackley was doing nothing less than God’s work! We were delighted when McGurran first retired from the Council in 2016, gutted when he made a comeback in 2019, and very pleased to see the back of him again. Let’s hope he stays gone this time. Sadly, he won’t be too far away, as he won one of the Pitsea county seats. Sigh!
THE PITSEA DIVISION (x2) – Con HOLD x1 and Lab HOLD x1
MACKENZIE, Luke (Con) – 3,573 (25%) *Elected
McGURRAN, Aidan (Lab) – 3,257 (23%) *Elected
REID, Patricia (Lab) – 3,115 (22%)
RIMMER, Craig (Con) – 3,091 (21%)
TOOLEY, Daniel (RUK) – 501 (3%)
HOWARD, Martin (LibD) – 454 (3%)
JENKINS, Philip (LibD) – 422 (3%)
Turnout: 26% (+4)
Cllr Luke Mackenzie
In a result that was eerily similar to that in the Laindon Park & Fryerns Division, the Pitsea Division returned a split vote between us and Labour. My old friend and colleague and sitting Pitsea South-East Conservative borough councillor, Luke Mackenzie (pictured) topped the poll with a majority of 316 over the second-place Labour candidate, Aidan McGurran. This is a significant increase on the slim majority enjoyed by his Conservative predecessor, retiring Pitsea county councillor Stephen Hillier, who won in 2017 with a majority of only 49 votes. In a strange twist – again, as in Laindon – Aidan McGurran displaced his own Labour predecessor, Pat Reid, who came in 142 votes behind, achieving third place but losing her the seat and overturning the 292-vote majority she previously enjoyed over the next-placed Conservative candidate that year. Disappointingly, our second Conservative candidate, fellow Pitsea South-East councillor Craig Rimmer, came in fourth place. Given that he was only 166 votes behind Councillor McGurran, one cannot ignore the fact that if even half the Reform UK candidate’s votes had gone to Craig, we would have won both the county seats. This is what we mean when we say “Vote for a third party, Get Labour”. As with Allan Davies in Laindon, I have a lot of sympathy for Pat Reid, who remains a Pitsea North-West borough councillor, as I believe she was a genuinely good county councillor and enjoys a lot of respect across the chamber, unlike her successor, who has ironically gained the county seat in the same election that saw him lose his borough seat in Vange!
CROUCH – Con HOLD
ALLEN, Stuart (Con) – 1,428 (72%) *Elected
BURTON-SAMPSON, Mark (Lab) – 312 (16%)
BLAKE, Simon (LibD) – 100 (5%)
BARLOW, Sean (Ind) – 90 (5%)
HUNTLEY, Neil (RUK) – 67 (3%)
Turnout: 30% (-0)
Cllr Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen (pictured) was comfortably re-elected in Crouch with a significantly increased majority of 1,116 over the Labour runner-up, Mark Burton-Sampson. Although the Conservative share of the vote was slightly down on the last time the seat was contested in 2018, that can probably be attributed to the presence on the ballot of the Independent and Reform UK candidates. It has little significant impact on the result and Crouch remains safe as houses.
WICKFORD NORTH – Con HOLD
MORRIS, Carole (Con) – 1,611 (52%) *Elected
BALL, Alan (WInd) – 1,035 (34%)
PALMER, Gillian (Lab) – 328 (11%)
HOAD, Nicola (LibD) – 104 (3%)
Turnout: 30% (+3)
Cllr Carole Morris
Long-serving Tory stalwart Carole Morris (pictured) was re-elected to Wickford North for the fifth time with a massively increased majority of 576 and a plurality of votes. This seat saw a 9-point swing back to the Conservatives in what was a huge relief following the loss of the seat in 2019, when the Wickford Independents won it with a 65-vote majority. Fortunately, it seems that the voters of Wickford are wise to the ‘Windies’, who have served as part of the Labour-led ‘Basildon Borough Alliance’ since 2019, despite Labour routinely coming a distant third in Wickford elections. They were not to be fooled again and Carole has been comfortably returned.
THE WICKFORD CROUCH DIVISION (x2) – Con HOLD x2
BALL, Tony (Con) – 5,752 (36%) *Elected
BUCKLEY, Malcolm (Con) – 4,472 (28%) *Elected
BROCKMAN, Eunice (WInd) – 1,660 (10%)
BURTON-SAMPSON, Mark (Lab) – 1,131 (7%)
PALMER, Gillian (Lab) – 1,001 (6%)
BARLOW, Sean (Ind) – 836 (5%)
HOAD, Nicola (LibD) – 386 (2%)
BLAKE, Simon (LibD) – 376 (2%)
HUNTLEY, Neil (RUK) – 234 (1%)
Turnout: 29% (+1)
No change in the Wickford Crouch Division, where the incumbent Conservatives, Tony Ball and Malcolm Buckley (pictured) were re-elected with a combined share of the vote of 64% (an 8-point swing to the Conservatives on 2017, which is probably a reflection of the drop in support for the Wickford Independents). The Windies secured an 18% vote share in 2017 but, oddly, chose only to field one candidate this time, despite Mr Barlow – who was labelled as a standard ‘independent’ candidate on the ballot paper – being touted as a Windy in their literature, appearing alongside Eunice Brockman on their leaflets and on social media. As it stands, he was beaten into a very distant sixth place by the two Labour candidates.
CONCLUSIONDespite highs and lows, Friday was undoubtedly a very good day for Basildon Conservatives, who have regained control of Basildon Borough Council after two years of Labour-led rule at The Basildon Centre. The ‘Alliance’ thought they could ride roughshod over everybody, ignore the residents and, disgracefully, abuse them over social media. That is all over now and we can get back to sensible, grown-up leadership.
Councillor Callaghan clearly saw the writing on the wall, early in proceedings. The loss of St Martin’s, Vange and Pitsea South-East cost him three of his key supporters in the Labour Group and, although he clung on by his fingernails in his own Pitsea North-West seat, he announced his resignation as Leader in a characteristically graceless and self-justifying post on social media and said he would be deleting his Facebook account. He will now return to the backbenches and it is unclear who in the remaining Labour Group will emerge to succeed him but, whatever happens, it is likely to be a very different kind of Labour Group moving forward – hopefully a more measured, reasonable and collegiate Labour Group. There are Labour folk who are perfectly decent and straight-dealing, who are not political animals determined to win at any cost, who just want to do the best for their residents and they are people we are more than happy to work with where we agree and politely agree to disagree where we do not.
Turnout was up across the Borough but still depressingly low, at 30% (up 4 points on 2019). All told, the Conservatives won 49% of the popular vote across the Borough (up 6 points on 2019), while Labour secured 23% (down a point). The Smithites were on 9% (down 2 points) and the Windies on 3% (down a whopping 8 points).
In terms of the other parties, the Liberal Democrats are back on 9% (same as 2019) and making little impact outside of Billericay West. Meanwhile, newcomers the Basildon Community Residents Party, fighting their first lot of elections, put in a respectable showing, commanding 5% of the vote, but failed to make any significant electoral impact. Reform UK, UKIP, For Britain and other independents and third parties are entirely negligible and completely pointless.
Just for some final stat-crunching, the single highest number of votes won by any borough candidate was Stuart Sullivan (Con, Billericay East), who received 2,412 votes. The lowest was Norma Saggers, the Reform UK candidate in Nethermayne, who received only 39 votes. She also, unsurprisingly, takes the award for lowest share of the vote of the night (1%). The largest share of the vote went to Richard Moore (Con, Burstead), who commanded 76% of the popular vote. He also won the single largest majority (1,997), making Burstead easily the safest seat on the Council. These are typically referred to as ‘Billericay-sized majorities’ and are not generally found in other parts of the Borough, where votes are more hotly contested. The largest vote share outside of Billericay was Kevin Wingfield (Con, Laindon Park) on 55%, though not the largest majority. That went to Hazel Green (Ind, Nethermayne), who has a majority of 802 compared to Kevin’s 780-vote majority.
The next step now will be for the Conservative Group to hold their AGM and put together an Order Paper, including our nominees for Leader of the Council and Mayor of the Borough, to present to the Annual Meeting of Basildon Council scheduled for May 27th. Basildon Conservatives have been given a strong mandate to reverse some of the divisive and unpopular policies the outgoing Administration were persuing, and we shall seek urgently to unpick these things. But our Group are also ambitious to deliver real positive change in Basildon and make our residents’ lives better. We have an awesome responsibility to deliver on our platform – sort out the Borough’s finances and reduce the tax burden on residents, continue to deliver good services and support our communities as we emerge from the pandemic and move towards a Covid recovery, scale back inappropriate developments, crack down on enforcement, and proceed our programme of investment, estates regeneration and economic development.
We are hugely grateful to everyone who voted for us and, regardless of how you voted, ours will be an Administration that is there to serve all of you.