THE TORIES are breathing down the necks of Redditch’s Labour group after seizing four seats in this year’s local elections.
The Conservatives followed the national trend and took three seats which were formally Labour, plus one that was previously Independent.
It means Redditch Borough Council now has 15 Labour councillors, 13 Conservatives and one Ukip.
Labour’s Alan Mason lost out to Tory Michael Chalk in the Abbey ward, while the blue corner’s Anita Clayton snatched John Witherspoon’s seat by just ten votes in the previously Labour stronghold Batchley and Brockhill.
In the West ward, the Conservatives triumphed again, first with the re-election of David Bush then newcomer Matt Dormer taking Michael Braley’s vacant Independent seat.
Winyates also fell into the hands of the Tories with Antonia Pulsford taking Labour’s Phil Mould’s seat.
Tory stalwart Brandon Clayton retained Astwood Bank and Feckenham, while leader of the Conservative group, Juliet Brunner, was returned in Matchborough.
Mrs Brunner – resplendent in a vibrant pink trouser suit – said she was absolutely thrilled that the people of Redditch had put their trust in the party.
“I am disappointed we haven’t taken control of the council this time but there’s always next year,” she said.
“We have been working extremely hard locally to get our messages out and people were really keen on what we want to do and realise how much we have supported them.
“I was very confident we would win the extra seats.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Labour though with outgoing mayor Pat Witherspoon being re-elected for Church Hill and former headteacher Jenny Wheeler taking Rebecca Blake’s seat in Greenlands.
Overall, Councillor Bill Hartnett, leader of the council and the Labour group, said he was pleased his party had retained control of the council.
“The people of Redditch have a tradition of discriminating between the national and local elections and although we had a very disappointing result in the General Election last night we have had a very happy result today,” he said.
“People of Redditch clearly like and enjoy what a Labour council does – we need to deliver on our promises of this election.
“We are continuing with the free swimming for the under 16s and over 60s, continuing with the free bus pass, we have got the half a million pound Mortgage Rescue Scheme and we have the half a million pound Buy Back Scheme, plus there is £20,000 in the pot for new business start ups and to support new businesses in the borough.
“So we are trying to help everyone that we can.”