UKIP and Greens take first Essex County Council seats

  • 3 May 2013
  • From the section Essex
Braintree Count
Image caption Braintree was one of the places where counts were held in Essex

The UK Independence Party, which had never before won a seat on Essex County Council, took seats in nine of the 75 divisions.

However, the Conservatives maintained overall control with 42 seats. The Tories gained one seat but lost 19.

UKIP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats finished the night with nine seats each.

Like UKIP, the Green Party notched its first seats on the county council, winning two divisions.

The Canvey Island Independents held their seat, while Tendring First, a residents' association won a single seat.

UKIP's Kerry Smith was the first from his party to win a seat on the county council.

'No longer fruitcakes'

He beat Conservative John Schofield by about 50 votes to clinch the Westley Heights ward in Basildon.

"I'm a bit stunned but not too surprised. There's anger on the streets," said Mr Smith.

Jamie Huntman, who won the Thundersley ward for UKIP, said: "I think it is a great day for democracy.

"We are hardly clowns and fruitcakes any longer. I genuinely believe they (the electorate) like UKIP."

For the Greens, Michael Hoy won the Rochford West ward and James Abbot took Witham North.

Mr Hoy said he would be looking to work on policies with other parties or independents.

Referendum 'astute'

Tony Durcan, who had been one of two Labour councillors on the council before these elections, said: "It is going to be a strong team on Essex County Council fighting for the residents.

"We are going to come back strong."

Image caption UKIP's first Essex county councillor Kerry Smith said he was "stunned" by the result

Basildon Council's Conservative leader Tony Ball said the party had to learn lessons from UKIP's surge, both at local and national level.

"On the doorstep the message I'm getting is people want to give us a kick.

"I get the sense they are only lending their vote to UKIP, but we can't take it for granted that we'll get it back.

"Nationally we need to offer a referendum on the EU, not only because it's the right thing to do but because it would also be politically very astute."

Baroness Smith of Basildon, the town's former Labour MP, said it was not only the Conservatives that had to learn lessons from UKIP's progress.

"They will predominantly take votes from the Tories but they are capable of damaging all three parties," she said.

The 75 seats in Essex were contested by 408 candidates.

The Conservative Party dominated the election four years ago, winning 60 seats. The Liberal Democrats were second, with 11.

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