03:00PM, Thursday 09 May 2019
With the dust settled following the local election, key councillors have begun thinking about the future.
The next important date in the Royal Borough political calendar is the annual council meeting on Tuesday, May 21, when the newly-elected council will sit for the first time.
Despite seeing his party go from holding all but 10 seats before Thursday to having a majority of five, council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) said he will push ahead with the Conservatives’ local election pledges.
“I don’t think it went wrong. We have got control of the council,” he said, pointing to the overall borough vote. “It was clearly a very challenging evening from a national political perspective.”
He suggested that, in the context of Brexit, remain voters could have gone for Liberal Democrats but leave-supporting Tories might have stayed at home.
Among the big-hitter casualties were his former deputy leader, Phill Bicknell, and experienced ex-councillors Derek Wilson and Philip Love.
When pushed on those losses, Cllr Dudley singled out strong returns for candidates in the Cox Green and Boyn Hill wards for praise.
“There will be no impact at all… we will deliver our manifesto,” he added.
A big winner on the night was Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), who before last week was his party’s sole representative on the council.
He described the outcome as ‘really fantastic’ and said: “I will be really keen on the independents joining us in fighting the Conservatives.
“I am really keen on making sure we are all working together and holding the Conservatives to account because they are making bad decisions.”
He said he wants to work with what he described as ‘sensible’ Tories on key decisions made by the council and added: “It strengthened (my hand) but at the end of the day the Conservatives still have the majority.
“The last eight years, it has been really, really tough – it has been a grin and bear it kind of thing. Now, it is feeling a lot healthier and happier and I think the council will benefit from it.”
Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor), who led an affiliation of independents and Cllr Werner during the previous council term, said key Tories had been ‘rejected at the polls’.
“I think that is a lot to do with this particular Conservative administration,” she said, saying too many decisions were made without sufficient scrutiny.
“I would hope the new administration does not fall into the same culture.”
She said she hopes the election outcome will provide ‘proper debate’ and is willing to listen to any opportunities for co-operation.
Cllr Jones said she had ‘already spoken to Simon Werner’ and said of the previous Conservative composition in the council: “The huge majority was a very unhealthy situation, very unhealthy.
“So I am hoping for a lot more challenge.”
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