Four senior cabinet members ousted in election

Historic Conservative collapse in elections

Friday, 13th May — By Tom Foot

James Spencer and Heather Acton

Out: James Spencer and Heather Acton

CHANGING “demographics” and “national issues” have been blamed for the historic Conservative collapse that saw half of the cabinet lose their seats on the city council.

Four of eight of the most senior councillors, handpicked to effectively run Westminster with big budget portfolios, were defeated.

Bubbly Matthew Green, the council’s cabinet member for business, licensing and planning, lost in Little Venice ward by just 16 votes.

Popular Heather Acton, the cabinet member for communities and regeneration, had represented Hyde Park ward for 12 years, while the fresh young hope James Spencer, who had been put in charge of city management, lost out in the redrawn Pimlico South ward.

Tim Barnes, who was the cabinet member for young people and learning, made a plea for the party to find ways to “present its vision better”.
He narrowly lost out in the West End ward.

Out: Tim Barnes and Matthew Green

Also gone but not forgotten are the former Mayor of Westminster Jan Prendergast, who lost in Maida Vale and the former cabinet member for public protection Antonia Cox, formerly of Hyde Park.

The adult and children services scrutiny chair Iain Bott lost in Marylebone High Street ward after nine years on the city council.

Murad Gassanly crossed the floor from Conservative to Labour during the Jeremy Corbyn era. He narrowly lost out in the Pimlico South ward.

Two 2018 recruits to Westminster City Hall, Margot Bright and Eoghain Murphy, lost in Lancaster Gate and West End ward respectively.

While the Marble Arch Mound was blamed for voter distrust in the Conservatives, the senior councillor who quit over the fiasco, Melvyn Caplan, was re-elected in Little Venice.

Jonathan Glanz, a former Lord Mayor of Westminster who had stepped down from the West End ward before the election, said in a tweet to his replacement, Julie Redmond: “You fought really hard but could not stem the tide of opinion on national issues.

“You can be proud of what you did and live to fight another day.”

Cllr Tony Devenish, meanwhile, said he was “devastated by the result”, adding: “We had a great team, led by the brilliant Rachael Robathan. Demographics and mid-term factors were key.”

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