ELECTION 2018: Tories still in charge of Portsmouth as Labour vote surges

EMOTIONS were high at today's election count with shock wins and losses leading to a new make-up of Portsmouth City Council.Â

Friday, 4th May 2018, 5:31 am
Updated Friday, 4th May 2018, 1:27 pm
03/05/2018 The Portsmouth local election count held inside the Guildhall, Portsmouth. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1) PPP-180305-225524006

The shake-up has left the Portsmouth City Council’s largest party, the Conservatives, with one less seat and the Liberal Democrats with one more after votes were counted. Labour gained the most seats giving them six overall while Ukip lost all their seats.

The council will now have one independent councillor as opposed to two in one of the count’s most controversial surprises.

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03/05/2018 The Portsmouth local election count held inside the Guildhall, Portsmouth. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1) PPP-180305-225524006

Cllr Claire Udy won the Charles Dickens seat as an independent with a majority of 115. However, she was still down on the ballot papers as a Labour candidate due to her former affiliation with the party. Cllr Udy resigned from the party just days before the election amid accusations of anti-semitism.

Therefore, there were questions raised about if people knew what they were voting for.

The leader of the council, Cllr Donna Jones, said: ‘I think the vote for Claire Udy has been a complete mess. She has been elected as a Labour candidate when she had resigned before the votes were cast. She remains under investigation despite resigning.

‘It’s difficult. I understand why a number of voters would be despondent about this.’   

03/05/2018 The Portsmouth local election count held inside the Guildhall, Portsmouth.Gerald Vernon Jackson. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1) PPP-180305-225603006

The Labour name was still  associated with Cllr Udy on the ballot papers as her sudden resignation left no time to change them.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, was keen that the party could remain on good terms with Cllr Udy. He said: ‘She still has Labour values. I hope one day we can work with her to deliver for the people in our ward.’

Mr Morgan, who is also a councillor for Charles Dickens ward, added: ‘We need to put the people in the ward before party politics. I’m really looking forward to work with her.’

Labour caused several of the morning’s unexpected results with Cllr Judith Smyth becoming the first-ever councillor from its party in St Jude.

03/05/2018 The Portsmouth local election count held inside the Guildhall, Portsmouth. Donna Jones. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1) PPP-180305-225551006

Her win meant that the city’s former culture boss, Linda Symes, lost her seat, weakening the Tories’ grip on the city.

Cllr Smyth, who had never stood for council before, said: ‘I think my election is a real symbol of change in people’s opinions. There’s a real sense of the population in St Jude changing as well. There are more young people as well as people coming from London.

‘My main priorities are making sure people’s voices are heard. I also am concerned with the city’s sea defences.’

Labour also gained seats in Central Southsea and Fratton.

03/05/2018 The Portsmouth local election count held inside the Guildhall, Portsmouth. Stephen Morgan MP. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180470-1) PPP-180305-225615006

Despite not getting the strong majority that the Tories had hoped for leader Cllr Jones was optimistic about the future of her party and the council. She said: ‘The Conservatives were still the most successful party this morning and we will remain the largest party in the council.

‘The result gives me the mandate to continue to run the council. We will have to work in partnership with other parties but we have done that for the last four years and I am more than happy to have a conversation with Labour and the Lib Dems to see if we have common interests.’

Average voter turnout for the night was 32 per cent.