Norfolk elections 2021: Conservatives tighten grip on county council
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
The Conservatives have tightened their grip on control of Norfolk County Council.
The Tories increased their number of seats from 52 to 58, which included taking Holt from the Liberal Democrats, King's Lynn North and Central from Labour and Marshland North from the Independents.
But it was also a good day for the Greens, at Labour's expense.
They turned three Norwich seats (Nelson, Thorpe Hamlet and Mancroft) from red to green - the first time County Hall has had Green councillors since 2017.
Labour went down from 16 seats to 11, while the Lib Dems went from nine to eight.
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Lib Dem leader Steffan Aquarone retained his Melton Constable seat, but stepped down as leader, saying he did not agree with his party's stance of backing the Norwich Northern Distributor Road Western Link.
Three independents triumphed, including former Lib Dem group leader Ed Maxfield, who retained his Mundesely seat and Alexandra Kemp, who held her Clenchwarton and King's Lynn South division.
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Independent Jim Moriarty tasted victory in Gayton and Nar Valley, taking the seat from the Conservatives.
But Andrew Proctor, Conservative leader of Norfolk County Council, said he was delighted with the results.
He said: "We made some good gains and squeezed the votes elsewhere. It was really tight in Aylsham, where we came really close to taking it from the Lib Dems.
"Fair play to everyone of our candidates. Everyone did a tremendous job. I am very proud of all the Conservatives."
Mr Proctor said there would now be a refresh of the county council's business plan as his party looked to lead Norfolk's recovery post-pandemic and a drive to deliver on the manifesto promises.
Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said: "I think we are pretty disappointed with the way it went across the county.
"I make no excuses - that is democracy and that's what the judgement of people has been.
"But what we have seen is that those candidates who have done best are those most rooted in their communities.
"Under the circumstances, we did not really get the opportunity to get out in the communities in the way we would have wanted to.
"And that's where we will be in the future - where the people are."
Green Ben Price, who won Thorpe Hamlet from Labour, said having three Greens back at County Hall was important.
He said: "It's a tremendous honour to represent the people of Thorpe Hamlet.
"I feel we have got the urgency and the determination to take forward our desire to improve the climate credentials of the council and to deliver change to help stave off the climate emergency."
In Aylsham, there were 21 votes separating Lib Dem Steve Riley from his Conservative opponent Hal Turkmen, but Mr Riley held the seat.
He said: "It's been a hard campaign for eight weeks. I'm looking forward to working hard for the community."
In West Norfolk, former borough council leader Nick Daubney returns to politics.
Mr Daubney won Freebridge Lynn, seeing off Green and Labour candidates by a margin of more than 1,000 votes.
He said: "I think when lockdown started, so many of the things I was involved in were not so much happening, so I thought: 'I will have a another go."
Fellow Conservative Lesley Bambridge took King's Lynn North and Central from Labour.
In Great Yarmouth, the Tories held on to their seats across the borough, but also gained Yarmouth North and Central.
Graham Carpenter took the seat, which had been held by Mick Castle (Independent), who announced his retirement at the end of last year.
Labour's Colleen Walker and Mike Smith-Clare held Magdalen and Yarmouth Nelson and South Town.
In South Norfolk, the Conservatives held all of their seats and took the West Depwade seat from Bev Spratt.
Mr Spratt, who had held it for the Tories since 2005, but was not selected to defend it, so had become an independent. He lost out to Barry Duffin.
The Lib Dems held Costessey, with Sharon Blundell keeping the seat which had long been held by Tim East.
The 84th Norfolk seat - Sewell - is yet to have its election. That was postponed following the death of Conservative candidate Eve Collishaw.
In East Suffolk, Greens Peggy McGregor and Caroline Topping won in Beccles, beating former Conservative council leader Mark Bee, while Green Annette Dunning triumphed in Halesworth.
The Conservatives held Oulton, Lowestoft South, Pakefield and Bungay, with the Conservatives looking set to comfortably retain control.
But the Tories lost control of Cambridgeshire County Council.