LOCAL ELECTIONS: Unexpected changes on Lancaster City Council as Greens and MBIs make major gains

The count at Lancaster Town Hall.
The count at Lancaster Town Hall.

Lancaster City Council has no party in overall control after Labour lost 10 seats in the local elections.

Labour now have 21 seats, while Morecambe Bay Independents made a significant return to the scene, gaining 14 seats, the Conservatives took 12 and the Greens increased their seats to 10.

Liberal Democrats gained three new seats.

There are 27 wards in total, represented by 60 councillors.

Labour councillor Erica Lewis, who represents John O'Gaunt ward alongside two fellow Labour councillors, said: "It's not what we were expecting to happen but it's not unusual for Lancaster City Council to have no overall control.

"We are still the largest group and we will go from here to have conversations within the group and then with other groups about where the opportunities are to work together.

"What's interesting is seeing the Lib Dems make a comeback and the huge growth in the MBIs and I think it will make us look at our common causes. People are overwhelmingly frustrated with national politics and we will have to find a way to deal with that. Residents want a council that delivers for them and they want to be better heard."

Coun Darren Clifford, who retained his Harbour seat for Labour along with Janice Hanson and David Whitaker, said: "We have seen a national picture this week which nobody in this room is at fault for and some good people have lost their seats from all different parties and that's not something to celebrate.

"We have lost some good friends and I am very upset by that."

Meanwhile, Coun Whitaker is expected to be named as the next mayor, having retained his Labour seat in Harbour ward, and a new leader of the party is expected to be decided at a group meeting on Tuesday, after former leader Eileen Blamire stood down.

The Green Party had a successful day, increasing their seats from seven to 10, and in the process taking seats in Bulk and Scotforth West from Labour.

Coun Dave Brookes, representing Castle ward, thanked former leader Jon Barry for his 20 years of exceptional service in the ward.

Marsh councillor Gina Dowding said: "This is really good news for the Greens in Lancaster and also across the country where we have nearly doubled our numbers on local councils, which is brilliant.

"When we get elected we work hard and people know they can trust the Greens to stand up for the local area and make improvements in the areas.

"I got into politics because I thought we needed some action 20 years ago and I am still as enthusiastic as I was then. It's a huge privilege to represent your community and that's why we do it.

"This sets us up well for the European elections."

It was the return of the Morecambe Bay Independents that took the majority of the news, taking 14 seats.They took all three Westgate seats from Labour, as well as a Conservative seat in Heysham South and Labour and Conservative seats in Torrisholme, as well as two seats in Poulton from Labour, which saw a return to the council for Tricia Heath.

Other shock results included Lib Dem Michael Mumford taking the long-standing Conservative Kellet seat, which had been represented for many years by Roger Mace.

In Bolton and Slyne, former Independent councillor and Bolton-le-Sands Parish Council chairman Keith Budden made a return to the city council as a Conservative, succeeding Sylvia Rogerson in the seat.

Turnout in the election was 33.58%, a huge drop from the 64% turnout in 2015, when the election ran alongside the General Election.