Express & Star

Conservatives lose control of Lichfield District Council after falling one seat short

The Conservatives lost control over Lichfield District Council after suffering heavy losses in the local elections.

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The Lichfield District Council count

The party, which has run the council for 24 years, fell one seat short of a majority following gains from Labour and the Lib Dems.

Labour leader Councillor Steve Norman deemed the night a success after his party gained seats in several wards previously held by the opposition.

The Tories finished up on 23 seats, with Labour on 17 after six gains and the Lib Dems coming from nowhere to also gain six.

In St John's ward the Conservatives lost all three seats, with two gained by Labour and one by the Lib Dems.

It came after the party had what Conservative council leader Doug Pullen described as a "difficult" night, having lost a large number of seats nationwide.

He told the Star: "After the elections, it's an opportunity for us locally to regroup and reflect on what our offer is to our local electorate and make sure that we really think about that and actually, as we move forward, take time to reflect on why we have lost those seats and do everything in our power to gain the trust of the public back and get those votes next time."

The results did see some personal success for Mr Pullen, who received one of the biggest cheers of the day when he was elected to represent Boley Park, having previously represented Highfield.

The closest election was in Whittington and Streethay, where Staffordshire County Council leader Alan White lost his seat by just three votes to newly elected Lib Dem councillor, Andrew Rushton.

Being one of the youngest candidates to stand for election in the country at the age of 21, Mr Rushton said he hopes to represent young people who "haven't had a voice on the table in so long."

He added: "I can't describe how I feel, winning by just three votes as well is nerve-wracking because it went to three counts so I'm glad it's over now but I can't wait to get started for the council, I'm just really ecstatic.

"As I said to my voters, I just want to be a voice for them, I want to keep talking to them on the doorstep and let them know they can come to me with any problems and that I will be a voice for them and what they want.

"Roads are a big thing, they are awful, so it's just making sure I'm pressing county council for fixing potholes, putting on bus stops because they've been scrapped and making sure people get access to the services they deserve."

Reflecting on a big night for the Lib Dems, he said: "It's been amazing - we went from one councillor to seven. I don't think we were expecting that at all, it's a massive increase. I think people have gone to the Lib Dems because they know we are getting the message right – we are really happy, we've done really well."

Holding his seat for Chase Terrace with a total of 505 votes, Mr Norman said he was pleased to see more Labour councillors elected.

He said: "I didn't really expect to win control of the council, but I am pleased we have increased our majority again from four years ago and four years before that, so it's a success because it's a hard fight in Lichfield District.

"The manifesto promises a fairer, greener Lichfield. On the greener side, certainly the climate change resolution that we had in 2019 has not been progressed very much, so we will try and get that progressed and also make it fairer, because we still believe in Burntwood in particular, too much is going into Lichfield City instead of in the rural areas and in Burntwood, so we want a fairer distribution of that funding.

"There's always a national context, but there's also a local context, sometimes the individual council can make a big difference but it's not very much really, it is down to what is happening locally. We still need to look politically at where the funding is going and where the needs are and actually listen to people."