Reaction as Conservatives hold Boston Borough Council with working majority of two

Votes are counted last Thursday
Votes are counted last Thursday

The Conservatives held onto Boston Council with exactly the same number of seats as they had before the election.

Here, we talk to representatives of three of the groups to get their reaction to the poll results from last Thursday - and their hopes and plans going forward.

The make-up of the council now sees the Tories with a slim majority of 16 seats with the independents having 11, Labour and Labour and Co-operative Party 2, and UKIP 1.

That leaves the Conservatives a working majority of two.

The average turnout at the borough elections was 27.34%, but a number of wards were under 25%.

Coastal had the highest turnout with 33.9%, and Skirbeck the lowest, with 22.4%.

Conservative Council leader Michael Cooper, who held his Five Villages ward seat, said Boston had bucked the trend nationally and regionally in terms of the Conservative performance.

The local Conservative councillors distanced themselves from the national party with a letter calling for the Prime Minister to step down in the build up to the election.

And that seems to have helped shore up a performance in the borough on a disastrous night for the part nationally which saw the Tories lose more than 1,300 seats across the country, with Brexit frustrations being blamed for the poor performance.

Labour also had a disappointing night in the borough, although they won two seats and lost one sitting councillor in Paul Gleeson.

Incoming Labour councillor Paul Goodale said they had hoped to do better, and were disappointed to only have two seats.

The biggest single opposition group is the Bostonian Independents Group, and one of it’s re-elected members told the Standard that he wanted to pull all the independents together to offer strong opposition to the Tory administration.

Speaking earlier this week, Cllr Cooper said they had bucked the trend in terms of the way the vote had gone, ending up with exactly the same majority as before the election last week.

Asked if the letter members signed calling for PM Theresa May to step down had helped, Cllr Cooper told the Standard: “I think distancing ourselves from the national party before the election was one of the things that helped, but here was a whole series of things.

“We ran a really good strong campaign. We did distance ourselves from the Government and all this messing about around Brexit.

“But the other thing is we stood on our record for the last four years, and in the last four years, we’ve delivered, and when you look at a lot of towns and a lot of places Boston is in good shape.”

He said the turnout was abysmal, and said people were just fed up with politics. He said: “We’ve had Brexit for the last two years, and people are just disillusioned. And it’s not just people outside of politics, I can tell you. There’s a lot of us who are pretty disillusioned with what’s going on.

“What’s really important for us is making everything on the ground work for Boston

“We’re going to push on and do the best we can for the district on even less money as our government grant is cut. We’ve got projects like Distributor Road and the Boston Barrier, which is coming to an end this year and will make town safer. We’ll be doing the best we can for everybody.”

Cllr Brian Rush, of the Bostonian Independents Group, which has seven councillors, said he hoped to try and get all the independents working together as an opposition group.

“The whole thing is a confusing collection and what I’d like to see is despite the differences of opinion – and there are some – that they all come together for the good of the borough.”

“What we need to do now is put forward an effective opposition. A good administration can only operate with a good opposition and we need to break this mantle of what I call officer control.

“I believe there is common ground and that should be about making sure the people of this town are considered rather than administration we are working under.”

Paul Goodale, who was elected in Station Ward, winning the seat from UKIP councillor and former BTAC chair Sue Ransome, said the party had hoped to do better.

“The low turnout didn’t help us,” he said. “You understand why some people felt that way. But I just think its s shame that national politics affected what happened locally.

“Putting a positive spin on it, I suppose a 100% increase is a good result. But in general, we are very disappointed. We hoped to do a lot better than we did.”