Local elections: Labour leader loses seat as Tories keep hold of Basildon Council

The Conservatives have retained overall control of Basildon Borough Council after tonight’s local elections saw them unseat the leader of the Labour Group.

The Tories won Pitsea North West off Labour leader Jack Ferguson by just 20 votes, despite losing Langdon Hills ward to the Independent Group.

One third of the seats at the local authority were up for election, with the results announced earlier this morning during a count which revealed turnouts were as low as 17.95 per cent in Lee Chapel North, and 27 per cent overall.

Local issues such as the scrapping of the local plan, a planning blueprint for 20,000 new homes in the borough, were suggested by candidates as the main reasons behind some of the swings between parties.

Overall, the total number of Labour and Conservative seats on the council has not changed, but the Independent Group have gained one councillor.

Mr Ferguson said Labour’s results were “mixed”, as the group had strengthened their majorities increase in Fryerns and Lee Chapel North.

He said: “Let’s not forget that they [the Conservatives] fought Pitsea North West in a by-election in July last year where they had a majority of 350 and we got that to within 20 votes tonight.”

Walter Brown won Langdon Hills for the Independent Group, and said the scrapping of the local plan helped swing the vote away from the Tories.

He said: “With them binning it, the people of Langdon Hills were really anxious about what would be happening with planning, given that there was no protection for green spaces, for local infrastructure and so I think people spoke out tonight and they said the Tories were wrong to bin the local plan for their niche local issues.”

Conservative leader Andrew Baggott, who was re-elected to his seat in Burstead, said local issues had cut through to voters over national issues such as the partygate scandal, in which senior government ministers and staff, including the prime minister, were revealed to have been attending parties when coronavirus restrictions prohibited this.

He said: “The only seat we lost was to an independent, which shows that the national issues, at last, aren’t being treated as they have been in the past and that the residents are getting the message that we are delivering for them locally and we will continue to do so.”

The Liberal Democrats were unsuccessful in their latest attempt to flip Billericay East, with candidate Tim Nicklin losing to sitting councillor Anthony Hedley by 613 votes.

The Conservatives won ten seats tonight, with Labour and the Independent Group winning two each.

This means the Conservatives have 25 seats overall, Labour has 10, the Independent Group has five and Wickford Independents have two.

Walter Brown, the new Independent councillor for Langdon Hills

Turnout was low across the board, at 21 per cent. The ward with the lowest turnout was Lee Chapel North, which had a 17.95 per cent turnout.

Local issues such as the scrapping of the local plan, a planning blueprint for 20,000 new homes in the borough, were suggested by candidates as the main reasons behind some of the swings between parties.

Here is a full rundown of the results:

Billericay East – Con HOLD

  • Andrew Schrader (Con) – 2062
  • Laura Clark (Lib Dem) – 604
  • Peter Bunyan (Labour) – 405

Turnout: 33 per cent

Billericay West – Con HOLD

  • Anthony Hedley (Con) – 2005
  • Timothy Nicklin (Lib Dems) – 1329
  • Sally Bunyan (Labour) – 206

Turnout: 38 per cent

Burstead – Con HOLD

  • Andrew Baggott (Con) – 1948
  • John Daffin (Lib Dem) – 687
  • Malcolm Reid (Labour) – 332

Turnout: 34 per cent

Crouch – Con HOLD

  • Terri Sargent (Con) – 1311
  • Tracey Hilton (Labour) – 408

Turnout: 26 per cent

Fryerns – Labour HOLD

  • David Kirkman (Labour) – 1074
  • Sandeep Sandhu (Con) – 624
  • Vivien Howard (Lib Dem) – 209

Laindon Park – Con HOLD

  • Jeff Henry (Con) – 1123
  • David Goddard (Labour) – 763
  • Stephen McCarthy (Lib Dem) – 136
  • Christoper Bateman (Brit Dem) – 100
  • David Murray (TUSC) – 47

Turnout: 22 per cent

Langdon Hills – Ind GAIN from Conservative

  • Walter Brown (Ind) – 1201
  • Christopher Allen (Con) – 883
  • Clarence Zwengunde (Labour) – 237
  • Christopher John May (Lib Dem) – 68

Turnout: 34 per cent

Lee Chapel North – Labour GAIN from non-aligned

  • Susanna Caira-Neeson (Labour) – 1006
  • Deepak Shukla (Con) – 649
  • Norma Saggers (Reform UK) – 157

Turnout: 17.95 per cent

Nethermayne – Ind HOLD

  • Kerry Smith (Ind) – 1946
  • Dylan Wright (Labour) – 402
  • Chima Okorafor (Con) – 334
  • Stephen Nice (Lib Dem) – 106

Turnout: 27 per cent

Pitsea North West – Con GAIN from Labour

  • Sam Gascoyne (Con) – 931
  • Jack Ferguson (Labour) – 911
  • Martin Howard (Lib Dem) – 133

Turnout: 21 per cent

Pitsea South East – Con HOLD

  • Luke Mackenzie (Con) – 1327
  • Michael Baker (Labour) – 896

Turnout: 25 per cent

Wickford Castledon

  • Alex Myers (Con) –  1030
  • Matthew Wright (Labour) – 458
  • Charles Sansom (Wickford Independent) – 420
  • Stewart Mott (Lib Dem) – 68

Turnout: 31 per cent

Wickford North

  • Peter Holliman (Con) – 1224
  • Trevor Hammond (Wick Ind) – 1115
  • Joseph Nemmeth (Labour) – 415
  • Nicola Hoad (Lib Dem) – 188

Turnout: 28 per cent

Wickford Park

  • George Jeffery (Con) – 874
  • Alan Ball (Wick Ind) – 598
  • Brenda Webb (Labour) – 348

Turnout: 25 per cent

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter