Standard reporters Lorna Morris and Harry Leach bring you the latest news on the Redditch Borough Council elections.
THERE were dramatic scenes at the Abbey Stadium today (Friday) as the Conservative Party secured more than half of the available seats in the Redditch Borough Council elections- winning by just one vote in Church Hill.
The Tories gained four seats and held on to three – occupying seven seats out of ten – Labour held on to three.
The overall turnout of voters in Redditch was down from the 2014 election which saw 34.40 per cent of people vote, while this year 32 per cent registered their support.
In the Abbey ward, Conservatives gained from Labour with Julian Grubb winning 767 votes while in Astwood Bank and Feckenham they retained control with Craig Warhust winning 1,077 votes.
Batchley and Brockhill saw the Conservatives defeat Labour’s Natalie Brookes with Gemma Monaco winning 809 votes.
Labour meanwhile held on in Redditch Central with Debbie Chance winning 883 votes.
Crabbs Cross saw Conservatives retain their seat with Salman Akbar receiving 737 votes. in Greenlands Labour’s Wanda King also kept her seat with 762 votes.
The Conservatives also held in Headless Cross and Oakenshaw where Joanne Beacham won 1,128 votes.
Labour’s Andy Fry kept his seat in Lodge Park winning 610 votes while over in the key Winyates seat the Conservatives gained from UKIP with Anthony Lovell’s 857 votes enough to win.
However it was high drama in Church Hill with the Conservatives gaining the seat by the narrowest of margins – just one vote.
Mike Rouse received 766 votes, while Labour’s Nina Wood-Ford – the deputy Mayor receiving 765.
Councillor Juliet Brunner, the leader of the Conservative group and the newly appointed Leader of the Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted to become leader and I am very happy with the result.
“We have been working really hard with (MP Rachel Maclean) Rachel’s campaign and results are evident with Church Hill where we have never seen a vote so close before. For us to take control with just one vote is amazing.
“It is so important that people vote and to remember what women did 100 years ago for us to have that right.
“I was very aware of that fact today when I was standing up on stage because if it wasn’t for them, I would not be where I am today thanking people for exercising that right.”
Leader of the Labour Party, coun Bill Hartnett, said: “We are disappointed we lost control of the council after six years, especially in places like Church Hill which we lost by one vote.
“I am saddened generally by the overall turnout. We want people to remember they can vote by post or at Redditch polling stations which are within walking distance and just takes a few minutes.
“We have a lot to be proud of and have fought a great campaign, I am confident we will take control again”.
MP for Redditch County Rachel Maclean on the win: “The overall gain makes me extremely happy and is a testament to the hard work we as a party have put in.
“We are looking forward to putting our polices into action and really helping improve the lives of people in Redditch.”