Results of the Local Elections held on May 5th, 2022
Conservatives retain control of Basildon Council!
It was a night of high drama but, save one exception (namely, the sad loss of an exceptionally hard-working Conservative councillor in Langdon Hills), last night was a terrific vote of confidence in the Conservative Party across Basildon. As you can see from the above graphic, Basildon Conservatives have retained control of Basildon Council, having won nine of the ten seats we were defending and gained a seat from Labour in Pitsea North-West, unseating the Leader of the Labour Group. This means that we remain at 25 seats, which gives us the overall majority we need to remain in Administration.
All told, Basildon Conservatives secured nearly half of the popular vote across the Borough, which is exactly the same as last year. Labour broke even at 10 seats (24% of the vote). In fact, all the parties remained more or less the same, with the Smithites retaining their seat in Nethermayne and gaining the second Langdon Hills seat from us, taking them back to 5 seats in total (9%). Having made no gains, the Wickford Independents remain at just two seats (6% - a doubling of their vote share from last year). The Liberal Democrats increased their vote share from 9% to 11% but failed to win any seats (it has now been 6 years since a Liberal has sat on the Council).
The detailed breakdown of results is as follows:
BILLERICAY EAST – Con HOLD
SCHRADER, Andrew (Con) – 2,062 (67%) *Elected
CLARK, Laura (LibD) – 604 (20%)
BUNYAN, Peter (Lab) – 405 (13%)
Turnout: 33% (-3)
I was elated to be re-elected by the good burghers of Billericay East with a majority of 1,458. However, my share of the vote was down 3 points on last year (and 11 points down on what I achieved when I was last re-elected) and I have had nearly 600 votes shaved off my majority. So I take nothing for granted. The Liberals, by contrast, enjoyed a 9-point swing and beat Labour into third place. Not bad going, considering their candidate spent all her time campaigning in the neighbouring ward. Labour's share has slumped 4 points on last year, with the Liberals seemingly the beneficiaries of the absence of any fourth party candidate (last year, we had a 'Kipper on the ballot and those protest votes appear to have gone the Liberals' way). Mine was, nevertheless, the largest Conservative majority of the evening (the second largest overall). I never take my voters in Billericay East for granted and I am gratified and humbled by their continued faith in me and look forward to being able to carry on serving them.
BILLERICAY WEST – Con HOLD
HEDLEY, Anthony (Con) – 2,005 (57%) *Elected
NICKLIN, Timothy (LibD) – 1,329 (38%)
BUNYAN, Sally (Lab) – 206 (6%)
Turnout: 38% (-2)
Conservative Deputy Leader Tony Hedley was returned in Billericay West with a majority of 676 - a testament to Tony's hard work and dedication and massively increased visibility since he joined Facebook a year ago. This was still, nonetheless, a close result by Billericay standards. Although both Tony's vote share and majority was 7 points up on last year, when we came within 200 votes of losing the seat, it is still a far cry from from the 2k majority he won back in 2018. It will have been a disappointing result for the Liberals, who have been executing a classic Lib Dem 'decapitation strategy' in Billericay West for the past few years but their decision to change candidates, coupled with the withdrawal of the unpopular Local Plan, seems to have cost them. Their vote share was down 7 points. Meanwhile, the needle hardly moved for Labour.
BURSTEAD – Con HOLD
BAGGOTT, Andrew (Con) – 1,948 (66%) *Elected
DAFFIN, Christopher (LibD) – 687 (23%)
REID, Malcolm (Lab) – 332 (11%)
Turnout: 34% (-2)
Our Glorious Leader Andrew Baggott was re-elected in Burstead with a relatively modest majority of 1,261 but the Liberals put in a surprisingly strong showing, with a 10-point swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems, pushing Labour into third place. Labour's vote share has hardly budged (but then they never really try to budge it).
CROUCH – Con HOLD
SARGENT, Terri (Con) – 1,311 (76%) *Elected
HILTON, Tracey (Lab) – 408 (24%)
Turnout: 26% (-10)
Terri Sargent was re-elected in Crouch with a majority of 903. Our vote share was up 4 points here but that can probably be accounted for by lack of alternative candidates. In 2021, we also had a Liberal, an Independent and a Reform UK candidate. This year, it was a two-horse race between Terri and Labour, which probably accounts for the 10% reduction in turnout, with many voters choosing to sit on their hands. Nevertheless, it was gratifying to see Terri comfortably returned.
FRYERNS – Lab HOLD
KIRKMAN, David (Lab) – 1,074 (56%) *Elected
SANDHU, Sandeep (Con) – 624 (33%)
HOWARD, Vivien (LibD) – 209 (11%)
Turnout: 19% (-4)
Somewhat astonishingly, Labour's David Kirkman (who has attended no meetings since September due to illness and logged very little casework) was, nonetheless, re-elected to his safe Labour seat of Fryerns with an increased majority of 450 and well over half the popular vote - doubtlessly cashing in on the fact that the Basildon Community Residents Party and Reform UK did not field candidates this year. Those votes have pretty much gone straight back to Labour. Alas, our valiant candidate, Sandeep Sandhu, fought a hard campaign but to essentially nil effect. Our vote share has remained infuriatingly static. The Liberals came a distant third.
LAINDON PARK – Con HOLD
HENRY, Jeff (Con) – 1,123 (52%) *Elected
GODDARD, David (Lab) – 763 (35%)
McCARTHY, Stephen (LibD) – 136 (6%)
BATEMAN, Christopher (BDem) – 100 (5%)
MURRAY, David (TUSC) - 47 (2%)
Turnout: 22% (-7)
Popular local folk hero Jeff Henry, saviour of the Laindon Community Centre, was comfortably re-elected to his Laindon Park borough seat (Jeff is also the local Essex county councillor for Laindon Park & Fryerns) with a majority of 360 and more than half the popular vote. Although our vote share was down 3 points on last year, this was a great result in a seat that has, for many years, been regarded as a key marginal. Not any more. By his continued hard work and efforts, along with his ward colleague Kevin Wingfield, Laindon Park has returned to the fold. The aim now is to win the third seat next year and make Laindon an 'all blue' ward for the first time in over a decade. Labour's vote share was up 8 points but not enough to unseat our Jeffers. The Liberals made little impact and the two fringe party candidates made no impact at all.
LANGDON HILLS – Ind GAIN from Con
BROWN, Walter (Ind) – 1,201 (50%) *Elected
ALLEN, Christopher (Con) – 883 (37%)
ZWENGUNDE, Clarence (Lab) – 237 (10%)
MAY, Christopher (LibD) – 68 (3%)
Turnout: 34% (-4)
In an absolutely gutting result, my friend and colleague, tireless local champion Chris Allen, lost his seat to Kerry Smith cipher Walter Brown. Despite having only won the seat in a by-election last year, Chris has made a massive impact over the past 12 months but, sadly, even being the only candidate who actually lived in Langdon Hills was not enough to buck the inscrutable voting habits of the voters there, who would elect a blancmange if it was endorsed by Kerry Smith. Councillor Brown enjoys a majority of 318. Labour and the Liberals were spectators here. It was very much a two-horse race.
LEE CHAPEL NORTH – Lab HOLD
CAIRA-NEESON, Susanna (Lab) – 1,006 (56%) *Elected
SHUKLA, Deepak (Con) – 649 (36%)
SAGGERS, Norma (RUK) – 157 (9%)
Turnout: 18% (-7)
This was another very disappointing result. Despite having been within 45 votes of winning the seat last year, our plucky candidate Deepak Shukla came a distant second behind Susanna Caira-Neeson, who won the seat with a majority of 357 and well over half the popular vote. I can't even blame the silly Reform candidate for taking votes away from us! It wouldn't have made any difference. It is a shame, because the Conservative Administration is spending an absolute fortune in the ward, yet they keep electing Labour councillors who vote against it. Councillor Caira-Neeson returns to Basildon Council after a 22-year absence, having previously been a one-term Labour councillor for Langdon Hills between 1996 and 2000. That may very nearly be a record. The only person I can think of to match that would be Cllr. David Harrison (W-Ind, Wickford Park), who lost his seat in 1988 and did not return to the Council until 2014 (a 26-year hiatus).
NETHERMAYNE – Ind HOLD
SMITH, Kerry (Ind) – 1,946 (70%) *Elected
WRIGHT, Dylan (Lab) – 402 (14%)
OKORAFOR, Chima (Con) – 334 (12%)
NICE, Stephen (LibD) – 106 (4%)
Turnout: 27% (-4)
Local demagogue Kerry Smith was, of course, comfortably re-elected to his Nethermayne seat, with a resounding majority of 1,544 (the largest majority of the night) and a freakishly massive 24-point swing to the Independents from last year - a testament to his titanic personal vote in the ward. Sadly, our candidate was pushed into third place by Labour, despite a 3-point drop in their own popular vote. Our vote was down a dispiriting 8 points on last year. Dear old Steve Nice for the Liberals got more or less exactly the same result as last year. The Smith phenomena continues.
PITSEA NORTH-WEST – Con GAIN form Lab
GASCOYNE, Sam (Con) – 931 (47%) *Elected
FERGUSON, Jack (Lab) – 911 (46%)
HOWARD, Martin (LibD) – 133 (7%)
Turnout: 21% (-4)
In easily the most stunning and dramatic result of the evening, the Leader of Basildon Labour, Jack Ferguson, lost his seat to first-time Conservative candidate and Internet sensation Sam Gascoyne, overturning a 300-plus Labour majority. As I said in my Runners & Riders blog, this was always going to be a tough fight for Jack Ferguson, as his predecessor only narrowly clung on last year with a badly reduced majority and then, when he quit only a few weeks later, we won the resultant by-election, electing Stuart Terson with a majority of 364. Stuart has since proved an exceptionally hard-working and highly visible ward councillor for Pitsea North-West and it is probably to him that Sam owes at least a portion of his electoral success, albeit with a rather more modest majority of just 20! For what it's worth, I regret that Sam winning his seat necessitated Jack losing his. Jack is actually a nice guy and is in politics for the right reasons, plays a reasonably straight bat and was certainly a far better leader than his ignominious predecessor. But that is politics... and Sam will be great!
PITSEA SOUTH-EAST – Con HOLD
MACKENZIE, Luke (Con) – 1,327 (60%) *Elected
BAKER, Michael (Lab) – 896 (40%)
Turnout: 25% (-5)
The Deputy Mayor of Basildon, Luke Mackenzie, was comfortably re-elected to his Pitsea South-East seat with a massively increased majority of 431 and 60% of the vote, in a two-horse race against Labour. The skuttlebutt from the campaign trail was that Labour threw everything at trying to retain Jack Ferguson's seat in North-West and barely touched South-East. Consequently, their vote share is down 5 points, while ours is up 13 points. I did not want to say anything in my Runners & Riders blog, lest it be held against him, but Luke is actually responsible for bringing me into politics, having recruited me over a decade ago, way back in 2010, when he was the organiser of Basildon & Billericay Young Conservatives and I was, believe it or not, still considered technically 'young'. He was a councillor at the time but I was elected in 2013, the year after he lost his seat. It was a delight to see him return to the Council in 2018 and I was chuffed to bits to see him re-elected last night.
WICKFORD CASTLEDON – Con HOLD
MYERS, Alex (Con) – 1,030 (52%) *Elected
WRIGHT, Matthew (Lab) – 458 (23%)
SANSOM, Charlie (WInd) – 420 (21%)
MOTT, Stewart (LibD) – 68 (3%)
Turnout: 31% (+1)
Alex Myers has been comfortably elected to replace retiring long-serving Tory stalwart Malcolm Buckley with a majority of 572 over Labour. Meanwhile, Basildon resident and Tory turncoat Charlie Sansom was relegated to what must have been a rather disappointing third place (made all the more galling by the fact that, prior to quitting the Tory Party in a fit of pique, he had been selected to stand in Pitsea North-West, which his replacement won that same evening). I hope, dear reader, that I shall not be judged too harshly for my schadenfreude but, while I have no strong personal animus against Charlie (I always tried to get on with him personally), I am unashamedly Dantean in my attitude to political defectors. I shall be fascinated to see what he does next. The Lib Dems made no impact here.
WICKFORD NORTH – Con HOLD
HOLLIMAN, Peter (Con) – 1,224 (42%) *Elected
HAMMOND, Trevor (WInd) – 1,115 (38%)
NEMETH, Joseph (Lab) – 415 (14%)
HOAD, Nicola (LibD) – 188 (6%)
Turnout: 30% (+3)
Peter Holliman was re-elected to Wickford North with a majority of 109, in what as quite a close contest with the Windies. Our vote share was down 10 points on last year, with the other three parties all doing slightly better but not enough to unseat Peter, who is now serving his third term as a Conservative councillor for Wickford North. The Liberal candidate was entirely negligible. Incidentally, this was the only ward in which turnout was actually up!
WICKFORD PARK – Con HOLD
JEFFERY, George – 874 (48%) *Elected
BALL, Alan – 598 (33%)
WEBB, Brenda - 348 (19%)
Turnout: 25% (-4)
George Jeffery was re-elected here with an increased majority of 276 over former Windy councillor Alan Ball. George is the youngest member of the Conservative Group and has just completed his first term of office but has already established himself as a stalwart for his ward. Mr. Ball's hopes of a comeback have been dashed, with Labour's paper candidate bringing up the rear.
So another night of highs and lows. Clearly devastating to lose Chris Allen in Langdon Hills and we wish him well for the future. Hugely gratifying to see so many colleagues returned, however, and to have kept a majority on the Council and retained the Administration. We look forward to welcoming our two newly-elected members into our ranks - Cllr. Sam Gascoyne (Con, Pitsea N.-W.) and Cllr. Alex Myers (Con, Wickford Castledon). Overall, nationally, it does not seem to have been quite the disastrous bloodbath that many of the talking heads were predicting.
Clearly, this was a catastrophic night for Labour. In Basildon, they regained the third seat in Lee Chapel North, which had been held by an unaligned former Labour councillor, but lost their own leader in Pitsea North-West. Who will now lead the Labour Group at Basildon is anybody's guess. The smart money is on Cllr. Adele Brown (Lab, Fryerns) but she was MIA last night, just as she has been for over half the council meetings last year, and she served as Labour leader previously and was manifestly uncomfortable in the role. But I am not sure that leaves Labour colleagues with many options! Nationally, as well, Sir Keir Starmer will now be feeling the pressure. After twelve years of a Conservative Government and everything that has been going over the past few years, Labour should be much further ahead than they are. Some of the folderol they are campaigning on is, I think, not cutting through with voters in the way they seem to think it is.
Turnout across the Borough remains depressingly low, at 27% (3 points down on 2021!). As I mentioned earlier, the Conservatives won nearly half the popular vote across Basildon Borough (though all the parties vote shares were essentially static from last year).
Just enough time for some pointless stat-crunching! The single highest number of votes won by any borough candidate was yours truly (Con, Billericay East). I received 2,062 votes. The lowest was David Murray, the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition candidate in Laindon Park, who received only 47 votes. He, not unsurprisingly, also has the lowest vote share (2%). The largest share of the vote went to Terri Sargent (Con, Crouch), who commanded 76% of the popular vote. The single largest majority (1,544) was won by Kerry Smith (Ind, Nethermayne). The honour of the smallest majority goes to Sam Gascoyne (Con, Pitsea North-West) at just 20 votes.
The Conservative Group will now hold our 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 26th. In accordance with our stated aims, this Order Paper will restructure Basildon Council, dispensing with the Committee System and re-establishing the Cabinet. Basildon Conservatives will continue to use our strong mandate to build upon the positive improvements we have made over the past twelve months.
We are, as always, hugely grateful to everyone who voted for us.