Reigate & Banstead local election round-up

Counting of votes getting under way on 3 May (photo: reigate.uk)

 

Candidates sought to campaign on local issues in this month’s Reigate & Banstead borough elections but did so against a backdrop of Brexit turmoil.

The elections were the most significant in the borough for 20 years as a ward boundary review meant every seat was up for election rather than the normal one-third. The review also reduced the number of wards and councillors.

At the polls, the Greens and Liberal Democrats made gains, the Residents held on to what they had, but the Conservatives retained a clear majority on the (now smaller) council.

At the count and shortly afterwards, reigate.uk spoke to the political groups winning seats in our part of the borough.


Liberal Democrats

L-R: Cllrs Jane Philpott, Stephen Kulka, David Ross (photo: reigate.uk)

The Liberal Democrats won all three seats in the redrawn Meadvale & St John’s ward, having previously held just one.

Among the winning trio was Steve Kulka, who returns to the council after narrowly losing his seat to the Conservatives last year.

He said the new ward boundaries had worked well for the Lib Dems: “We lost what’s known as the Trees estate down in Woodhatch, which has always been a very low-turnout area.

“When we were told we were going to lose that and gain an area close to Redhill, a relatively high-turn-out area, we realised that it would be a bit of a challenge, but that there was more scope for making progress there, and it obviously worked with us.”

The trio said that although they had included their party’s pro-remain Brexit stance in their leaflets, they had been keen to focus on local issues.

Newly-elected David Ross said that in any event, while there was increasing dissatisfaction with the Tories over Brexit, that came from both sides (leave as well as remain).

Steve Kulka said, when asked if the party’s pro-remain stance had been a vote-winner: “There was no real proof that it was, but I don’t think it actually caused a problem either.”

Jane Philpott said that they’d wanted to address local issues: “The fact that we are associated with a party that wants to remain wasn’t relevant to the local problems.”

Steve Kulka added: “Far more people mentioned things like the fact that we really want the council to commit to carbon neutrality, charging points for electric vehicles in council car parks, and making sure that the cycle paths that have been installed are actually available for use because so many people are allowed to get away with parking in them.”

Jane Philpott said they needed to work with councillors in other wards to look at parking that overspilled into Meadvale & St John’s, and Steve Kulka said they would be monitoring the Redhill & Reigate golf club site following its closure – both issues that voters had raised.

 


Greens

L-R: Cllrs Steve McKenna, Sue Sinden, Hal Brown, Ruth Ritter, Jonathan Essex. (Photo: Redhill Greens). Cllr Susan Fenton not pictured.

The Greens won all three seats in Redhill East, where they previously held two, and all three in Earlswood & Whitebushes, where they previously held just one.  Again, this time boundaries were different.

Ruth Ritter, elected for Earlswood & Whitebushes said: “Local community support has been absolutely fantastic, and we’ve worked hard talking to people on the doors.”

Asked whether Brexit had been a factor, Cllr Ritter said “If it has been raised on the door we have brought the agenda back to the local issues of affordable housing, not building on the green belt, and the kind of issues that we’re raising locally.”

Jonathan Essex, re-elected for Redhill East, added: “[Brexit] has not been the main part of our campaign but I think it has affected results nationally.”

“Clearly some people are upset and frustrated with politics.  We were expecting a low turn-out because of it, but it didn’t happen,” he added.

On the future priorities for the six Green councillors, Cllr Essex said: “We want to provide effective opposition to the Conservative-led council in Reigate & Banstead.

“The pressure on our green belt has not gone away.  Genuinely affordable homes for rent are not yet being built.  Surrey County Council is closing children’s centres and has reduced youth workers and as of yet the local council has not stepped in to bridge the gap.

“Those are just three examples of areas where we think opposition is needed to make our council work better.”

Cllr Essex also welcomed the news that Greens had won seats across other boroughs and districts in the county: “We know we’re not the only Greens in Surrey any more.”

 


Conservatives

Cllr Mark Brunt (RBBC photo)

The Conservatives lost seats to the Greens and Lib Dems, but suffered more from the boundary review reduction in seat numbers.

Overall, the party had a strong performance in Reigate & Banstead compared to other parts of Surrey.

Mark Brunt, who was re-elected in Hooley, Merstham and Netherne, and who has served as leader of the council since last year, credited the party’s performance to a long history of campaigning on local issues and working hard in its wards.

He said no one major focus for local concern emerged on the doorstep from voters: “So, yes, they were unhappy with national politics, but, by and by, they were satisfied with what the council does, and I think that helped us to retain our seats,” he said.

He said the Green gains in Earlswood & Whitebushes were down to their hard work there over the past year, while the Greens winning another seat in Redhill East was made easier by having two already there.

On the Lib Dem gains in Meadvale & St John’s, he said that was where the Lib Dems had focused and that they had benefited from a “Remain backlash”.

Asked whether Brexit had played a part in the results more widely in the borough, Cllr Brunt said: “Certainly in the early parts of the campaign, Brexit was a very big factor, but it seemed in the last two weeks of the campaign, while the MPs were on their Easter break, it became less of a factor.”

“Most people seemed to accept and understand the difference between the local council and national,” he added.

“I don’t think I’ve seen an election where there’s been so much anger towards all national parties, and that made it very difficult to try to get across local issues and local priorities because people were so focused on their disenchantment with politicians,” he also said.

Asked whether local Conservative MP Crispin Blunt’s Eurosceptic views had helped or hindered the campaign, Cllr Brunt said: “There are those people that really like him and those that don’t, so it really depends on who you were talking to.  I think he’s seen in the same way as all national politicians are seen – with disappointment.  But he didn’t actually come up much on the doorstep, in my experience.”

Cllr Brunt said the priorities of the council (assuming he is re-elected as leader) would be the provision of affordable housing and running the council on a sustainable financial basis, now that the council no longer receives money from central government.

 


Independent

Cllr Christopher Whinney (RBBC photo)

Independent Christopher Whinney was one of three councillors re-elected for the Reigate ward (the other two being Conservatives Rosemary Absalom and Michael Blacker).

After the result, he thanked voters and supporters for his re-election, and welcomed the high turn-out in Reigate (42%), saying it was “excellent” that people had voted, whichever way that was.

He said he was looking forward to working with Cllrs Absalom and Blacker for the benefit of the ward.

On the question of whether Brexit had affected the results, he said that residents had suggested that they were not keen to vote, but that appeared not to have happened in the end, judging by the high turn-out.

He added that being an independent enabled him to challenge whoever held the majority on the council.

Cllr Whinney sits with the Residents group in the council chamber, making a total of seven councillors.

 


Summary of parties’ performance

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council after May 2019 election
Group Seats +/- since May 2018 Notes*
Conservative 29 -11 Lost 1 to Green in Redhill East; lost 2 to Green in Earlswood & Whitebushes; lost 2 to Lib Dem in Meadvale & St John's
Residents 7 No change
Green 6 +3 Gained from Con: 1 in Redhill East and 2 in Earlswood & Whitebushes
Liberal Democrat 3 +2 Gained from Con: 2 in Meadvale & St John's
Total = 45 (previous council had 51). Ward boundaries differ from 2018.

Results by ward

Banstead Village
NamePartyVotes
Eddy HumphreysConservative1233 (Elected)
Sam WalshConservative1210 (Elected)
Nadean MosesConservative1076 (Elected)
Sophie RowlandsGreen674
Laurence Clack UKIP380
Barbara WilliamsLabour375
Turnout: 30%

 

Chipstead, Kingswood and Woodmansterne
NamePartyVotes
Tim ArcherConservative1422 (Elected)
Simon ParnallConservative1277 (Elected)
Caroline NeameConservative1207 (Elected)
Shasha KhanGreen642
Eileen HannahLib Dem545
Gerry HeverUKIP367
Ian ThirwallLabour357
Turnout: 31%

 

Earlswood and Whitebushes
NamePartyVotes
Hal BrownGreen1452 (Elected)
Ruth RitterGreen1194 (Elected)
Susan FentonGreen1119 (Elected)
Barbara ThomsonConservative574
Chris ReynoldsConservative573
Shysta ManzoorConservative496
Joe FoxUKIP291
James SunderlandLabour272
Rex GilesLabour255
Anthony ANDERSONLib Dem252
Jody SalisburyLabour235
Jane KulkaLib Dem229
Turnout: 35%

 

Hooley, Merstham and Netherne
NamePartyVotes
Mark BruntConservative1026 (Elected)
Keith ForemanConservative776 (Elected)
Frank KellyConservative722 (Elected)
Shaka AkliluLabour664
Leon BourneLabour598
Chantal ClarkeGreen586
Stewart DackLabour510
Jemma De VincenzoLib Dem435
Graham BurrLib Dem406
Toby RiskLib Dem344
Steve RichardsUKIP330
Turnout: 31%

 

Horley Central and South
NamePartyVotes
Jerry HudsonConservative825 (Elected)
Andy LynchConservative822 (Elected)
Christian StevensConservative782 (Elected)
Katherine LiakosGreen592
Rob SpencerLabour580
Christopher DunbarUKIP535
Tom TurnerLabour529
Linda MabbettLabour495
Turnout: 27%

 

Horley East and Salfords
NamePartyVotes
Tony SchofieldConservative993 (Elected)
Derek AllcardConservative912 (Elected)
Graham KnightConservative881 (Elected)
Simon PintoGreen819
Barry CullenLabour560
Toby BramptonLabour502
Denis BeraireUKIP440
Turnout: 30%

 

Horley West and Sidlow
NamePartyVotes
Richard BiggsConservative926 (Elected)
Alex Horwood Conservative759 (Elected)
Giorgio ButtironiConservative687 (Elected)
Geoffrey SouthallLib Dem619
Peter PalmerUKIP511
Sara-Jane HepburnLabour505
Rick StarczewskiLabour415
Turnout: 28%

 

Lower Kingswood, Tadworth and Walton
NamePartyVotes
Rachel TurnerConservative1559 (Elected)
Rod AshfordConservative1527 (Elected)
Jamie PaulConservative1509 (Elected)
Christopher HowellLib Dem595
Valerie Moore UKIP481
David BurnleyLabour327
Turnout: 32%

 

Meadvale and St John's
Name Party Votes
Stephen KulkaLib Dem1333 (Elected)
Jane PhilpottLib Dem1248 (Elected)
David RossLib Dem1022 (Elected)
Jonathan WhiteConservative928
Lindy MurrayConservative869
Tim Peniston-BirdConservative825
Soo AbramGreen705
Rosie NorgoveLabour245
John AdamsLabour243
Gerry O'DwyerLabour158
Turnout: 41%

 

Nork
NamePartyVotes
Gemma AdamsonNork Residents1759 (Elected)
Ross FeeneyNork Residents1650 (Elected)
Peter HarpNork Residents1605 (Elected)
Chloe Schendel-WilsonConservative424
Jim CouchmanConservative356
Tony RigbyConservative322
Stephen GeeLib Dem187
Emma SmithLabour145
Turnout: 32%

 

Redhill East
NamePartyVotes
Jonathan EssexGreen1373 (Elected)
Stephen McKennaGreen1187 (Elected)
Sue SindenGreen1099 (Elected)
Richard CoadConservative434
Paul BevanConservative371
Abishek SachdevaConservative252
John BergeLabour179
Stuart HolmesLib Dem167
Ann WatkinsLabour152
Gemma RoulstonLib Dem151
Alastair RichardsonUKIP150
Andrew CressyLib Dem149
Tony RobinsonLabour117
Turnout: 34%

 

Redhill West and Wray Common
NamePartyVotes
Natalie BramhallConservative1005 (Elected)
Rich MichalowskiConservative905 (Elected)
Kanika SachdevaConservative829 (Elected)
Joseph BootonGreen636
Kumari LaneGreen591
Frank PercyGreen538
Susan VincentLib Dem424
Michael RogersLib Dem419
Yvonne EnglandLabour406
David SayersLib Dem377
Jon PepperLabour349
Douglas WickendenLabour286
Turnout: 33%

 

Reigate
NamePartyVotes
Rosemary AbsalomConservative1297 (Elected)
Christopher WhinneyIndependent1096 (Elected)
Michael BlackerConservative1063 (Elected)
Rita RentonConservative1037
John VincentLib Dem856
Gregory ArdanLib Dem783
Monica DyerLib Dem771
Leon DeithGreen612
Janine BakerLabour197
Peter GroveLabour192
Graham WildridgeLabour146
Turnout: 42%

 

South Park and Wootdhatch
NamePartyVotes
James KingConservative865 (Elected)
Victor LewanskiConservative759 (Elected)
Simon RickmanConservative687 (Elected)
Lynne BurnhamGreen654
Susan GregoryLabour517
Moray CareyLib Dem457
Bob GriffithsLabour431
Helen SamuelLib Dem422
Mick HayLabour377
Joanna LloydLiberal Democrat367
Chris ByrneUKIP345
Turnout: 34%

 

Tattenham Corner and Preston
NamePartyVotes
Jill BrayTattenham Residents1397 (Elected)
Nick HarrisonTattenham Residents1363 (Elected)
Bob HarperTattenham Residents1330 (Elected)
Frances ClarkeConservative263
Aaron HarrisConservative249
Rahul BatraConservative238
Jake BonnerLabour211
Alistair MortenGreen198
John CordnerLabour153
Turnout: 27%