CONSERVATIVES say it is ‘business as usual’ when it comes to running the city of Gloucester, after they held their own in the election.
They successfully defended eight seats and maintained their 37 per cent share of the vote. Labour’s share fell from 33 to 26 per cent and the Lib Dems dropped from 23 to 18 per cent. UKIP soared from four to 15 per cent but failed to make any inroads.
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Despite Lib Dem support falling, leader Jeremy Hilton is aligning himself to strike a deal with Conservative council leader Paul James in a bid to push through pledges such as new public toilets for the city centre and making a bid for World Heritage Status for Gloucester Cathedral.
Attempting to brush off Mr Hilton’s demands, Mr James said: “I think anyone making demands needs to take a look at the results tonight. Bearing in mind we were defending eight of the 15 seats we have had a pretty good result. It is of course disappointing not to have made a gain.
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“As for Labour, they threw a great deal of resources into their target wards but were unable to win any of them. It has been a bad night for them.
“When it comes to the council, we have always been pretty inclusive and taken on board ideas from other people. That will continue.”
But Mr Hilton said: “We have done very well. We have held the four seats that we were defending.
“The council is still a stalemate. It is finely balanced but it needs everyone’s co-operation. We will want to have discussions about how the council works going forward. The important thing for us is that Liberal Democrat policies are implemented.”
Mr James said he was keen to continue running a minority Conservative administration and is keen not to be distracted from his regeneration plans for the city, pushing ahead with developments such as delivering the King’s Quarter project and a new bus station.
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City MP Richard Graham said it was important Mr James was allowed to continue leading the council to push forward the regeneration agenda.
Mr Graham, who proudly celebrating alongside victorious Conservative candidates at the county, said: “The main result of the local elections in Gloucester was continuity. Paul James and the Conservatives will continue to lead a hung council – the right result for a city on the up and heading in the right direction but with much still to be done on city centre regeneration.
“If I were to highlight one difference between Conservative councillors and Labour ones it is our enthusiasm to get stuck into local issues and be ambitious about what our city and residents can achieve – rather than the relentless gloom painted by the local Labour Party, and what one Labour MP recently described as Ed Miliband’s ‘mantra of misery’.”
Mr Graham would not comment on how he felt the Conservatives good night at the polls would affect his rival Sophy Gardner’s chances of electoral success at next year’s General Election.