Lib Dems ‘ready to seize back council’

Herald Series: Richard Webber Richard Webber

LIBERAL Democrats in the Vale of White Horse say they are ready to seize back the district council after winning two Tory seats in a by-election.

Party leader Richard Webber spoke after the Lib Dems won both seats in a poll for the Sunningwell and Wootton ward.

The party last year lost control of the council to the Conservatives after 16 years. All seats are up for grabs in 2014.

Elizabeth Miles and Valerie Shaw took the seats with 549 and 577 votes to 346 and 333 for Tories Adam Hardiman and Richard Trefflor.

The poll was called after sitting members Jane Crossley moved away and Timothy Foggin stepped down for health reasons.

The move leaves 29 Conservatives, 20 Lib Dems, one independent and one Labour councillor.

Conservative leader Matthew Barber said the Lib Dems’ success was down to “local personalities” and said the Tories remained strong.

But asked if he felt the Lib Dems were on course to win back the council, Mr Webber said: “Absolutely. That is the target.

“We have leant it back to them for four years and we are going to get it back again.

“It is down to hard work. I don’t think we have done anything particularly clever. There is a bit of disillusionment with the current regime.”

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A contentious issue is house building plans in rural areas, he said.

The council has yet to agree where it will support new housing estates in the next 20 years, leading developers to apply for other sites.

Mr Webber said: “Local politics does depend to a certain extent on local personalities and we had two extremely good candidates.

“It means more Tories will have to turn up to big meetings. It is getting a little bit close now.”

Wootton Parish Council member Mrs Shaw lost the district council seat when the Tories took control last year.

The former Vale vice-chairman said: “I am absolutely elated. I was very upset about being beaten last time and it is wonderful to be back on the council.”

Mr Barber said: “It is disappointing. We hadn’t had the presence in the area we would have liked.

“It was very much a campaign of local personalities rather than any great issues or gauge for the rest of the political scene.

“If it had been reflected in the national picture we would have expected a Lib Dem collapse.

“I don’t think we are hugely surprised given the local circumstances.”

Speaking about her win, Mrs Miles said: “I’m delighted – not least because I was quite late going into it – but also staggered by the amount of work that people have done to support me. I’m grateful to everyone who voted for me.”

Comments (7)

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7:03pm Tue 11 Dec 12

lookingfromhere says...

I sincerely hope they do, what have the Tory's done for Abingdon in the past two years apart from two hours free parking? (and that came at a cost of robbing all the other pots, including the now defunct arts festival) and what did the Lib/Dems do?
Rebuilt the County Hall, did all the negotiating and sale of the Old Gaol developement, ditto the "Abbey Precinct" rebuild too, They rescued the War Memorial from sinking, relaid the Market Place, bought all the Christmas lights we see now. Laid on a proper Mayors Christmas party for the old folk (unlike last years fiasco) Created the MG garden and umpteen other projects that benefited everyone.Oh, and lets not forget they also had a housing plan in place which protected against speculative developers the likes of which are trying to build 140 houses here!
I sincerely hope they do, what have the Tory's done for Abingdon in the past two years apart from two hours free parking? (and that came at a cost of robbing all the other pots, including the now defunct arts festival) and what did the Lib/Dems do? Rebuilt the County Hall, did all the negotiating and sale of the Old Gaol developement, ditto the "Abbey Precinct" rebuild too, They rescued the War Memorial from sinking, relaid the Market Place, bought all the Christmas lights we see now. Laid on a proper Mayors Christmas party for the old folk (unlike last years fiasco) Created the MG garden and umpteen other projects that benefited everyone.Oh, and lets not forget they also had a housing plan in place which protected against speculative developers the likes of which are trying to build 140 houses here! lookingfromhere

8:23pm Tue 11 Dec 12

doozer says...

Lookingfromhere - just curious, as I'm fairly new to Abingdon, only arriving in the last 5 years of the Lib Dem reign; did they achieve all that you say in THEIR first 2 years of their 16 year term?

More generally, after 16 years didn't they get voted out for a reason? What where those? Is it because everyone was happy with all their decisions? I thought the Old Gaol development and tendering etc was a farce - not something to be celebrated?

What we're the issues that the residents of Abingdon were unhappy with that caused them to loose out previously? I assume they have looked to square those circles?

I'm no lover of either political party...but I am for whoever can do the best for Abingdon.

Just to clarify, if the Lib Dema get in....does that mean more houses definitely WON'T be built on the outskirts of town? And will that be done before or after they sort the traffic issues in town?
Lookingfromhere - just curious, as I'm fairly new to Abingdon, only arriving in the last 5 years of the Lib Dem reign; did they achieve all that you say in THEIR first 2 years of their 16 year term? More generally, after 16 years didn't they get voted out for a reason? What where those? Is it because everyone was happy with all their decisions? I thought the Old Gaol development and tendering etc was a farce - not something to be celebrated? What we're the issues that the residents of Abingdon were unhappy with that caused them to loose out previously? I assume they have looked to square those circles? I'm no lover of either political party...but I am for whoever can do the best for Abingdon. Just to clarify, if the Lib Dema get in....does that mean more houses definitely WON'T be built on the outskirts of town? And will that be done before or after they sort the traffic issues in town? doozer

1:09am Wed 12 Dec 12

Myron Blatz says...

At least Labour didn't win the Seats!
At least Labour didn't win the Seats! Myron Blatz

2:29pm Wed 12 Dec 12

oxinkytext says...

"All seats are up for grabs in 2014". Surely, it is 2015?
"All seats are up for grabs in 2014". Surely, it is 2015? oxinkytext

10:15pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Abingdon Neil says...

Yes - the next elections for both the Vale of White Horse District Council and Abingdon Town Council will be in May 2015, most likely on the same day as the General Election.

In 2011 the Lib Dems won slightly more votes than the Tories across Abingdon but the Tories won 11 out of 21 seats (beacuse of how the votes fell) with 9 Lib Dems and 1 Labour.

On the Vale the Lib Dems won 7 out of 14 of the Abingdon seats to the Tories' 6 and 1 Labour.

Of course how much of the result was down to the public's view of how either party was doing, how much was down to each party's organisation and how much was down to the higher than usual turnout because of the referendum is anyone's guess!
Yes - the next elections for both the Vale of White Horse District Council and Abingdon Town Council will be in May 2015, most likely on the same day as the General Election. In 2011 the Lib Dems won slightly more votes than the Tories across Abingdon but the Tories won 11 out of 21 seats (beacuse of how the votes fell) with 9 Lib Dems and 1 Labour. On the Vale the Lib Dems won 7 out of 14 of the Abingdon seats to the Tories' 6 and 1 Labour. Of course how much of the result was down to the public's view of how either party was doing, how much was down to each party's organisation and how much was down to the higher than usual turnout because of the referendum is anyone's guess! Abingdon Neil

10:16pm Wed 12 Dec 12

Abingdon Neil says...

Either way, it was a cracking by-election result :-)
Either way, it was a cracking by-election result :-) Abingdon Neil

9:57am Thu 13 Dec 12

Swag says...

I for one hope the Lib Dem's don't get back in. Look at the state of planning and the horrendous developments they have allowed in Wantage and Grove. The Lib Dem's were trying to build on every little bit of available land possible including allotments.

I for one am quite impressed what the Conservatives have managed in a short time, I hope they are given more time to continue the good work, and the Lib Dem's are allowed back in to flog the family silver.
I for one hope the Lib Dem's don't get back in. Look at the state of planning and the horrendous developments they have allowed in Wantage and Grove. The Lib Dem's were trying to build on every little bit of available land possible including allotments. I for one am quite impressed what the Conservatives have managed in a short time, I hope they are given more time to continue the good work, and the Lib Dem's are allowed back in to flog the family silver. Swag

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