Labour seize control of Westminster

Historic Conservative collapse

Friday, 6th May — By Tom Foot

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Pic Adam Hug, Hannah Neary, LDRS

WESTMINSTER IS RED.

Labour pulled off one of the biggest upsets in local election history by kicking the Tories out of their own backyard.

It the first time City Hall has not been run by Conservatives and some commentators are drawing parallels with the Peasants Revolt of 1381.

A string of senior councillors including cabinet members for business, planning and young people lost their seats – one by just 16 votes – and there was a surprise win for Labour’s veteran Paul Dimoldenberg as he was re-elected in the former Hyde Park ward of his 1980s nemesis Shirley Porter.

Leader Adam Hug promised a “root and branch revolution of everything the council does”, adding: “It’s an enormous honour to be given the support of the people of Westminster.

“We recognise the enormous challenges ahead and we will work incredibly hard to deliver what we promised for the people of Westminster.”

He told the Local Democracy Reporter Services said: “I’m very very dead very elated, we have made history here in Westminster.
“We had an amazing team of councillors and we have gone out and listened to people across Westminster… the council has ignored their concerns.”
Councillor Hug said he believes Labour has won Westminster due to a “mix of local and national issues” and people have felt “taken for granted” by the Tories, adding: “People were telling us ‘I can’t vote for Boris Johnson any more”.
Labour’s Paul Dimoldenberg, a councillor for 33 years, told LDRS: “I’m shell shocked, it’s an unbelievable result. It took a lot of hard work and good luck.”
He also thinks the Marble Arch Mound added to the Tories’ demise: “The mound for many people was the last straw. £6 million wasted on something when there’s rubbish on the streets.” 

There was a Labour clean sweep in the West End ward, which before last time around had never had a Labour candidate.

The wins for Patrick Lilley, Jessica Toale and Paul Fisher that has forced cabinet councillor Tim Barnes out of City Hall.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the night was Paul Dimoldenberg being elected to Shirley Porter’s former Hyde Park ward, along with two colleagues.

It had been suggested that the veteran former Labour leader was signalling an intent to step-down when he stood in the former Tory stronghold.

He is the longest serving opposition councillors in the country having first been election in 1982.

Crushing victories were recorded in Bayswater where Labour candidates polled almost twice as many votes as their Conservative rivals.

In the redrawn boundaries in the south of the Westminster, Pimlico South now has three Labour councillors while Pimlico North has three Conservatives.

Geoff Barraclough, Iman Less and Nafsika Butler-Thalassis stormed to victory in Maida Vale.

But there was heartbreak for Labour’s Murad Qureshi, who missed out on winning Little Venice by 49 votes.

Melvyn Caplan, the council’s former deputy council leader who quit over the Marble Arch Mound fiasco, hung on to his Little Venice seat with 1136 votes.

But Matt Green – the council’s finance chief – was not so fortunate, losing his seat on the council by just 16 votes.

Detail and reaction in Westminster Extra next week

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