CEC leader Rachel Bailey (1)

Cheshire East Council leader Rachel Bailey has blamed the ‘impasse of Brexit’ after the Conservatives lost overall control of the authority in a huge shock, writes Aran Dhillon.

After a dramatic day of results, the council – which is now made up of 34 Tories, 25 from Labour, 19 independents and four Liberal Democrats – has switched to no overall control.

It could have been even worse for the Conservatives but leader Cllr Bailey survived a scare to hold onto her Audlem seat, beating Liberal Democrat Richard Derricutt by just 78 votes.

Cllr Bailey says she has no doubt that national issues surrounding Brexit played a massive role at the ballot box.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I am very sad because the Conservative group has worked very hard to bring forward excellent service delivery, we have had a balanced budget in a very difficult fiscal time and we brought massive investment to Cheshire East in terms of infrastructure.

“Looking at the leaflets and our messaging about the campaign, it made me feel really proud about the achievements that have been made.

“Today, we find ourselves in Cheshire East in the same place as many authorities that have been out for election – that, actually, there is a swing to the independents.

“The electorate absolutely expressed their disappointment with the impasse of Brexit with the two main parties.

“This is a very different outcome in an election than you would normally see, in ordinary times it is usually the two main parties that hold sway one way or another.

“Here we are seeing that return to the Liberal Democrats, as they have established themselves following their tough round four years ago, and that focus on independents.”

After holding onto her Audlem seat despite a scare, she defended her decision to campaign in other areas – rather than in Audlem.

She added: “So many people haven’t turned out to vote and, equally, I haven’t campaigned in the Audlem ward.

“My residents have not had their Conservative candidate on their doorstep explaining that we are a local council and we don’t deal with Brexit.

“I felt, as leader of the Conservative group, my role was absolutely to go out and support candidates in other areas.

“If we look at the council as a whole, as of now we have 22 new councillors, so it is only right and proper when you have gone through the journey that you support those that are coming forward for the first time and that is what I have endeavoured to do.”

6 Comments

  1. Tony Wedgwood says:

    Do we not think the on going investigations has had some impact?

    If trust is lost than democracy can’t function in a very predictable way

  2. Jed Stone says:

    I have always found my local councillor brilliant, you only have to email them and the issue is solved.
    Councillors are not paid, but they look after the local area they love, and why anyone would think they have a hand in Brexit is beyond me?
    It’s local issues we live with, deal with our back yard first I say.

  3. Ken Elliott says:

    Sorry Mrs Bailey.The results were due to your Council being unfit for purpose in every respect.

  4. Paul Weaver says:

    Turnout was about the same as the local elections last year and the year before. Spoiled ballots were under 3%.

    Locally we’ve seen a massive transfer of votes from Conservative to Liberal Democrats, nationally the losses of UKIP, Tory and Labour, and the surge in Lib Dem and Green vote, from what used to be leave voting areas like Sunderland and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s back garden in Somerset, clearly says that the country has had enough of 3 years of the Tory/Labour brexit, and just want to call the whole thing off.

    In 2011 Rachel held Audlem with 80% of the vote. In 2015 it was 60% of the vote. This week she clung on with 53%. The direction is clear, and has been for years.

    • David Plant says:

      Sorry Paul,

      My wife and I both voted Lib Dem as a protest vote. We normally vote Tory. Yes Brexit was the reason but not because we want to call the whole thing off. We want to leave and if that means it’s without a deal so be it.

      We had a vote and the Government were given the mandate to leave.

  5. Eric Shaw says:

    Let’s hope this now leads to scrapping the Cabinet system and a return to accountable Committees instead.

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