Election 2021: Portsmouth City Council remains under no overall control

CONTROL of Portsmouth City Council remains up in the air as no political party won enough seats today for a majority.

By Fiona Callingham
Saturday, 8th May 2021, 10:49 am
Updated Saturday, 8th May 2021, 5:59 pm

For the seventh year running the local authority is in no overall control - and the fight for leadership is yet to be settled.

During this election, in which 14 of the council's 42 seats were up for grabs, the Liberal Democrats won the most seats with six - while the Conservatives took five, Labour won two and one independent was voted in.

However, this was not necessarily a victory for the Lib Dems as they actually lost two seats in shock results - one to the Tories and one to Labour - giving the Conservatives the most councillors overall.

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Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson at the election count on May 8. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

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Now the make-up of the council will now be 16 Tories, 15 Lib Dems, seven Labour, two independents and two members of the Portsmouth Progressive People group.

However, Lib Dem leader and incumbent council leader, who was set to step down from both roles today, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said it was still 'a good result.'

'We won the most seats of any parties today,' he said.

Outgoing Conservative group leader on Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones at the local election count in Portsmouth Guildhall on May 8, 2021 Picture: Fiona Callingham

'People have clearly got confidence in what we've been doing running the city and that gives us a really good mandate to keep running the city for the next year.

'Different years there are different numbers of seats to defend. Next year we're only defending three, this year we were defending eight.'

He added: ‘It’s been no overall control for many years. The council now has to decide if they put the Conservatives back in or if they keep the Lib Dems running the city.

‘Our expectation is we'll keep running the city.’

Independant candidate George Madgwick celebrates on the Guildhall steps after winning a seat on Paulsgrove ward. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

Former leader of the city's Conservative party, Donna Jones, who gave up her leadership and council seat today in order to run for Hampshire police and crime commissioner, was ‘really pleased’ with the result.

She said: 'We are finishing today as the largest political party on the council and we have seen our vote share increase in every ward.

'As the largest party it falls on us to put forward a challenge to hopefully be in charge of the council.'

She added the party could work as part of a coalition if that was needed.

Ian Holder who won the seat in St Thomas Ward. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

Re-elected Cllr Matt Atkins, who held his seat in Cosham, has been selected by the Tory group as its new leader.

A surprise result in Central Southsea ward saw Labour boost their numbers, as newcomer Charlotte Gerada knocked deputy Lib Dem leader Steve Pitt from his seat.

Labour group leader, Cllr George Fielding, said: 'All our candidates worked hard and our results match that. Securing Charlotte Gerada in Central Southsea is a huge result for us taking the seat from incumbent and deputy leader of council, as was holding Charles Dickens with Kirsty Mellor.

'Portsmouth Labour is proud to continue to buck the national trend in our city and these results are a building block for the coming years.'

Mr Pitt lost to Ms Gerada by a margin of 129 votes.

Winning candidate for Central Southsea, Labour's Charlotte Gerada Picture: Fiona Callingham

This throws future leadership of the Lib Dems into doubt as it was thought leader Cllr Vernon-Jackson would be passing on the reins to Mr Pitt after the election.

Mr Pitt declined to comment following the result.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I’m devastated for Steve. He works ridiculously hard.’

Ms Gerada said she ‘couldn't wait to get stuck in and support such a wonderful community in Central Southsea.’

And in Eastney and Craneswater former cabinet member for health, Matt Winnington, lost his seat to Tory John Smith by 362 votes.

There were a number of newcomers voted in during this election including independent candidate George Madgwick who was voted in to Paulsgrove.

He will be replacing independent John Ferrett who was first voted in as a Labour councillor in 2012.

Speaking to The News, Mr Madgwick said: 'It feels incredible, especially as an independent.

'I ran as an independent as I didn't feel I could support any current political parties.

'A main priority is to re-open the Healthy Living Centre in Paulsgrove.'

There was a Labour hold in Charles Dickens ward as Kirsty Mellor won by 470 votes. She is replacing Stephen Morgan, who is also MP for Portsmouth South.

She said: 'Alongside my good friend (Cllr) Cal Corkery I look forward to building further relationships in the ward and supporting residents to build a strong and safe community that benefits the many not the few.'

The largest majority of the election went to Conservative Ryan Brent who won Drayton and Farlington by a staggering 2,001 votes.

Mr Brent, who served as a councillor in St Thomas ward between 2015 to 2019, said: 'It's good to be back. It's an amazing majority.

'I will represent every resident of Drayton and Farlington regardless of who they voted for.'

Voter turnout in Portsmouth this year was 32.6 per cent.

This is only slightly up from the last local election in 2019, when turnout was 31.5 per cent.

All votes were announced by 3pm.



Darren Sanders (Lib Dem) 1,737

Tom Collins (Con) 1,066

Jason Christopher (Lab) 640

Bob Simmonds (Green) 246

Turnout 33.1 per cent

Majority 671

Lib Dem hold

Central Southsea

Charlotte Gerada (Lab) 1,740

Steve Pitt (Lib Dem) 1,611

Charles Douglas (Con) 570

Tamara Groen (Green) 191

Turnout 34.4 per cent

Lab gain

Majority 129

Charles Dickens

Kirsty Mellor (Lab) 1,183

Renu Raj (Con) 713

Yahiya Chowdhury (Lib Dem) 600

Chris Pickett (Trade Unionist and Socialist Party) 97

Turnout 19.3 per cent

Lab hold

Majority 470


Lewis Gosling (Con) 1,636

Mary Vallely (Lab) 805

Tim Sheerman-Chase (Green) 326

Bobby Tera (Lib Dem) 307

Turnout 31.6 per cent

Majority 831

Con hold


Matthew Atkins (Con) 1,668

Asghar Shah (Lab) 1,252

David Fuller (Lib Dem) 333

Mike Jerome (Ind) 103

Veronika Wagner (National Health Action Party) 100

Turnout 33.78 per cent

Con hold

Drayton and Farlington

Ryan Brent (Con) 2,707

David Simpson (Lab) 776

Duncan Garland (Lib Dem) 475

Turnout 38.2 per cent

Majority 2,001

Con hold

Eastney and Craneswater

John Smith (Con) 1,654

Matthew Winnington (Lib Dem) 1,292

Craig Withey (Lab) 1,139

Menno Groen (Green) 289

Turnout 45 per cent

Con gain

Majority 362


Stuart Brown (Lib Dem) 1,029

Nikki Coles (Lab) 977

Paul Sweeney (Con) 712

Ken Hawkins (Green) 154

Joey Smith (Workers Party of Britain) 49

Turnout 27.6 per cent

Majority 52

Lib Dem hold


Daniel Wemyss (Con) 1,763

Julian Lewis (Lab) 783

Peter Williams (Lib Dem) 265

Emma Murphy (Green) 217

Turnout 29.7 per cent

Majority 989

Con hold


Kimberly Barrett (Lib Dem) 1,471

Paula Savage (Lab) 1,251

Jack Smith (Con) 901

Sarah Gilbert (Green) 283

Turnout 37 per cent

Majority 220

Lib Dem hold


Leo Madden (Lib Dem) 1,097

David Cairns (Con) 781

Georgia Hancock (Lab) 495

Duncan Robinson (Green) 145

Turnout 24.3 per cent

Majority 316

Lib Dem hold


George Madgwick (Ind) 1,684

Tony Hewitt (Con) 1,269

Mark Farwell (Lab) 397

George Brown (Lib Dem) 81

Turnout 33.7 per cent

Majority 415

Ind hold

St Jude

Hugh Mason (Lib Dem) 1,287

Raj Ghosh (Lab) 1,194

Stephen Gorys (Con) 847

Ian McCulloch (Green) 283

Turnout 38.6 per cent

Majority 93

Lib Dem hold

St Thomas

Ian Holder (Lib Dem) 1,428

Alicia Denney (Con) 943

Rebecca Ozaniec (Lab) 760

Elliott Lee (Green) 237

Turnout 30.4 per cent

Majority 485

Lib Dem hold

Lib Dem Hugh Mason wins St Jude Ward. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)
Winning candidate for Cosham Tory Matt Atkins Picture: Fiona Callingham
Portsmouth Guildhall on May 8 Picture: Fiona Callingham