Lib Dem surge in Broadland council election slims down Tory majority
- Credit: Archant
Liberal Democrats in Broadland capitalised on a national swing away from the Tories and Labour in the local elections, tripling their presence on the council.
The party took eight seats out of Conservative hands, bringing their total number to 12.
It secured new seats in Taverham North, Hellesdon South East, Hevingham, Horsford and Felthorpe and Reepham as well as in its previously held wards, Aylsham, Spixworth and Buxton – although there was a close call in Buxton, where candidate Karen Lawrence had a majority of just two over Conservative rival Tim Catmull.
Steve Riley, Liberal Democrat leader at Broadland District Council, said the party would be 'putting people before politics'.
'We are delighted with our result and have hope that we can improve upon that if there are any by-elections,' he said.
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'In the past a lot of our vote nationally could have been protest, but in this election I think it is only a small proportion. 'For us, it is because we are hardworking councillors and we try to see through the politics.'
The new Lib Dem councillors include Caroline Karimi-Ghovanlou, a first-time district councillor who was elected in Taverham North.
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She said: 'I was a local candidate and people want local candidates.
'Talking to people at the polling station yesterday there is a lot of anger about Brexit. You can see that from the spoilt papers.
'Hopefully this is not just a protest vote.'
There was a double victory for Labour in Sprowston Central, where candidates Breanne Cook and Natasha Harpley together secured a majority of 289 over the two Conservative candidates.
Ms Harpley, another first-time district council candidate, said: 'We knew it was going to be really tight – in 2015 there were 19 votes between us and the turnout was higher, and also this time there has been more voter apathy.
'I have been out for months several times a week and put everything into it and it feels like the hard work is finally coming to fruition.'
The Conservatives took 33 of the council's 47 seats – still a strong majority, but less decisive than the 43 seats they held after the 2015 election.
Conservative group leader Shaun Vincent, who held onto his seat in Plumstead with a slim majority of 22 votes over Green Party rival Andrew Cawdron, said: 'It is a good result for us considering the national picture. We still have a very healthy majority which will enable us to continue to do good work.
'Our candidates are well known and well respected and their residents know the commitment they give, which has shown through with candidates being returned or in some cases being voted in for the first time.'