Essex

Conservatives lose council to local residents' association

Saffron Walden
Image caption Uttlesford District Council is based in the Essex town of Saffron Walden

An independent residents' association has taken control of Uttlesford District Council from the Conservatives.

Residents took 17 seats from the Tories.

The council covers the town of Saffron Walden and the surrounding area, which includes Stansted Airport.

The founder of the group, John Lodge, said he was "very thrilled, a little bit humble and little bit frightened".

Mr Lodge, who represents the Saffron Walden Shire ward said only in his "wildest dreams" did he think they would win.

The Liberal Democrats won one more seat, taking their total to seven, while the Conservatives retained just four of the 23 seats they were defending.

Two seats went to independents, a gain of one, while none of the other established parties won any of the authority's 39 seats.

The previous leader of the council, Conservative Stephen Rolfe, said their loss was "part of the national picture".

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption Stansted Airport is the biggest employer in Uttlesford District Council's area

Mr Rolfe, who lost his Ashdon seat, said the loss was "essentially" about Brexit as voters had told him they were "fed up" with the main parties' handling of the issue.

Mr Lodge, who founded Residents for Uttlesford in 2013, admitted that the national picture was reflected in Essex, but their win was a "local phenomenon".

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