Election: Labour majority at Luton Borough Council cut by Lib Dems
“It’s a red town. And it’s going to stay red.” That was the declaration of Labour deputy leader of Luton Borough Council Sian Timoney as she held her seat.
But the Labour Party majority on the local authority has been reduced by the Liberal Democrat opposition group at the local elections.
Labour has 32 councillors, the Lib Dems 12 and the Conservatives four on the new look council.
Three Labour seats and one Conservative fell on the night, as the ruling group’s majority was cut to 16.
The candidates to lose out were James Taylor (Crawley ward), Irak Chowdhury (Round Green) and Martin Rogers (Sundon Park).
The other Lib Dem capture was John Baker’s seat in Round Green.
Otherwise, there were few surprises with council leader Hazel Simmons one of three Labour councillors retaining their seats in Lewsey ward.
The Labour Party candidate selection row did not appear to upset the party’s performance in Biscot, Dallow and Saints wards.
It was a clean sweep for its representatives with some of the highest number of votes recorded for the party’s candidates.
In Crawley, Liberal Democrat councillor Terry Keens topped the poll with 885 votes, while party colleague Lee Brigden was close behind on 881.
Issues surrounding the other sitting councillor James Taylor’s backing for Luton Airport expansion may have influenced the vote, as he came third with 428 votes.
In Round Green, there were two casualties as sitting councillors Irak Chowdhury and John Baker missed out.
Deputy Mayor Mark Rivers topped the poll there for Labour with 989 votes, ahead of David Chapman for the Lib Dems on 917 and Labour’s Tahmina Saleem with 913.
Irak Chowdhury just lost out on 900, while John Baker trailed in eighth on 464.
In Sundon Park, sitting councillor Anna Pedersen came first for the Lib Dems on 927, with party colleague Clive Mead second on 867.
Martin Rogers lost out for Labour in third on 694.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group on the council David Franks led the way in Barnfield getting 1,194 votes, with party colleague Amjid Ali claiming a seat with 970.
Labour’s Haleema Ali was third on 662 votes.
Otherwise, it was a night of few surprises, but with a lot of new faces on the borough council following the Labour selection process.
Councillor Simmons topped the poll in Lewsey ward with 1,316, while Jacqui Burnett received 1,235 and Aslam Khan 1,121.
In Leagrave, Labour’s Maria Lovell topped the poll on 1,297 ahead of sitting councillor Waheed Akbar on 1,234 and Sameera Saleem on 1,120.
Labour deputy leader councillor Timoney polled 1,307 in Farley, where councillor David Taylor received most votes on 1,348, while fellow councillor Mahmood Hussain was on 1,304.
Labour councillor Rachel Hopkins switch from Barnfield to High Town proved a success as she topped the voting there on 950, ahead of sitting councillor on 898.
Labour’s Amy Nicholls followed up her by-election success in Limbury ward to earn 980 votes, with newcomer and party colleague Robert Roche second on 898.
Two new Liberal Democrats were successful in Stopsley, following Meryl Dolling’s appointment as High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, and her husband, Michael, stepping down to help her.
Richard Underwood polled 1,320 votes, with David Wynn second on 1,267.
It was a triple success for the Lib Dems in Wigmore where Peter Chapman topped the poll on 1,658, with Diane Moles second on 1,569 and Alan Skepelhorn third on 1,554, all three retaining their seats.
Biscot ward saw Kashif Choudhry come first with 2,006 votes, ahead of fellow Labour newcomers Abid Hussain on 1,981 and Saima Hussain on 1,909.
It was equally convincing for Labour in Saints ward, where Javed Hussain polled 2,460 votes, Summara Khurshid got 2,370 and Ghulam Javed 2,364.
Former councillor for the ward Raja Saleem, who switched to the Conservatives to stand at the election after being deselected by Labour, came fourth on 731.
And in Dallow, it was a similar story for Labour with Hannah Adrees first on 2,606 votes, Abbas Hussain next on 2,338 votes and Raja Ahmed third on 2,311.
Former Labour sitting councillor Mohammed Ashraf, who was excluded by the party, came fourth on 801 votes having stood as an Independent candidate.
In the Northwell ward, where long-serving councillor Roy Davis was deselected and retired, Labour held the two seats.
Anne Donelon paid tribute to councillor Davis’ contribution during her acceptance speech, as she headed the votes on 897, with Yasmin Waheed second on 764.
In Challney, councillor Tom Shaw led the way for Labour on 1,940 ahead of Tahir Malik on 1,790 and Khtija Malik on 1,785.
And in South ward, another trio of Labour candidates elected with sitting councillors Paul Castleman on 938 and David Agbley on 813 being joined by newcomer Javeria Hussain on 710.
The Conservatives kept their two councillors in Bramingham and Icknield wards.
So sitting councillors Gilbert Campbell and John Young, in the former ward, and Michael Garrett and Jeff Petts, in the latter, all return to the borough council.
The overall turnout was 29.37 per cent, with a total number of valid votes of 42,904.
The highest turnout was in Barnfield ward at 37.71 per cent, ahead of Biscot at 35.82 per cent.
The lowest was South ward at 17.11 per cent, and then a jump to Farley on 23.16 per cent.