Surrey

Election results: Tories suffer four Surrey council defeats

Election count in Tandridge Image copyright Tandridge District Council
Image caption Smaller parties have gained seats from the Tories in Tandridge

The Conservatives have lost control of Tandridge council, a stronghold which has been blue for almost two decades, and also relinquished their grip on Guildford and Waverley.

The Liberal Democrats have also taken Mole Valley, where the Conservatives were previously the largest party.

It means the Tories have suffered their worst defeats in Surrey for more than 15 years.

Senior party members blamed Brexit and plans for housing on the greenbelt.

In Tandridge, ousted leader Martin Fisher who lost his seat to the residents' association said: "The key issues for me are the local plan and balancing that need for homes for the next generation with protection of our 94% greenbelt.

"Obviously, the background chaos of Brexit isn't helping us at all."

In Guildford, councillor Paul Spooner kept his seat but he also said Labour and the Conservatives had been punished nationally over Brexit.

He said the greenbelt and housing remained key local concerns: "From a local perspective, the local plan, housing - many people are very unhappy."

In Waverley, Conservatives lost to no overall control, winning just 23 seats, compared to 53 in the last elections.

The Lib Dems picked up 14 seats, Farnham Residents took 15, while both Labour and the Greens gained two each.

Image caption The Conservatives still have the largest party, but no longer have a majority

Tories in Tandridge were running the council with a majority of just one, after losing eight seats last year.

They lost a further six seats, giving up three to the Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group, one to the Liberal Democrats and two to independents.

A total of 14 seats were up for grabs on the night. The Conservatives remain the largest party, with 16 seats out of 42.

Guildford, which had all 48 seats up for election, saw the Conservatives lose 25 seats, leaving them with nine.

The Lib Dems gained seven but ended up with 17 - still short of the 25 needed to run the council.

In Mole Valley, 14 of 41 seats were on offer, but the Conservatives lost 10 - nine to the Lib Dems and one to an independent.

Analysis

By BBC South East political editor Helen Catt

Wealthy east Surrey is traditionally Tory territory but the Conservatives have seen their control there steadily ebb away over several years.

The beneficiaries have largely been independents and residents' groups.

Brexit is not to blame, but rather a failure to balance house-building with concerns over the greenbelt.

That is solid Tory policy territory in the South East and could suggest there may be more for the party to worry about than their immediate Brexit concerns.

Across Surrey, Elmbridge remained under no overall control. The Conservatives lost three seats and ended up with 21 - four short of the 25 needed for a majority.

Woking also stayed under no overall control. The Conservatives lost one seat to the Lib Dems, ending up with 14 seats - two short of a majority.

Meanwhile, the Tories lost eight seats in Runnymede but still retained control of the council. Three seats went to the Lib Dems and three went to independents while one went to Labour and one was taken by the Greens.

In Surrey Heath, the Conservatives lost 14 seats - nine to the Lib Dems, two to the Greens and three to independents. The Tories ended up with 18 seats, the minimum needed for a majority.

The Conservatives lost six seats in Reigate and Banstead but retained control with a total of 29 councillors - in Spelthorne, they lost 12 but still retained a majority of 23.

The Residents' Association kept control of Epsom and Ewell.

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