WORCESTER will return to no overall control at the Guildhall after the Conservatives lost three seats on a night which saw the leader of the city council leave before a result was declared.
Coun Marc Bayliss disappeared into the night having spoken of his ‘disappointment’ and with a call to his party nationally to ‘consider carefully’ whether Boris Johnson was the right man to lead the Conservatives into the next General Election.
But his fears were quelled somewhat as the party lost three seats, including St Peter’s Parish, on a night which saw them emerge as the largest party at the Guildhall with 15 seats.
Labour picked up one seat to move to 12 while it was celebration time again for Green Party’s election machine which ensured the party picked up two seats on the night. The Liberal Democrats retained their Claines seat to remain on two
A downcast Coun Bayliss said: “We have tried again to go into Labour areas to win votes, it hasn’t worked.
“Whether Labour are stronger or we are weaker, that’s the conundrum, I don’t know.”
Coun Bayliss refused to be drawn on whether he would continue as leader of the council, despite remaining as leader of the largest party at the Guildhall. His opponents both said they would ‘wait and see’ before making any moves.
“We’ll see, I can only say that. Personally I have done this job for four and a quarter years, if this is the end then I would have very much enjoyed it, I will continue to do that,” he said.
And while he admitted he had not thought about standing down as Conservative leader in Worcester, a deflated Coun Bayliss said: “I’m very happy doing the job and if my colleagues wish me to do so I will but I shall let them decide after the election. I shall see how many I have got.”
“I’ve seen this coming, this week I am celebrating 20 years, I have seen results, you can’t really blag it. This is politics you have to take rough with the smooth,” he added.
Notably, Coun Bayliss sought to pin much of the blame for the results on Partygate and the Prime Minister’s fine from the Metropolitan Police while Worcester’s MP felt the current cost of living was a bigger issue on the doorsteps.
“I think the parliamentary party should think very carefully about who should lead us into the next election, I am not calling for Boris Johnson to go but the party should think carefully,” Coun Bayliss said.
A jubilant Coun Louis Stephen hailed the results as fantastic for his party which now boasts six of the 35 Guildhall councillors.
“St Peter’s was a rock-solid Conservative area until we started campaigning and it shows there are no safe Conservative seats when we apply ourselves to it.
“We’ve won by talking to residents all year round, not just six to eight weeks before polling day, we take a long-term view, work hard and we have been rewarded.
“We’ve always been careful we don’t lose the trust of local residents, support what they want. This is about local democracy, not Westminster stuff,” he added.
Coun Stephen admitted his party now had a ‘real voice’ at the Guildhall and a face on every committee to ‘challenge and put our green view’.
Labour group leader Coun Adrian Gregson said he was pleased his party had retained their seats and won back Nunnery and said Worcester would benefit from no party being in overall control.
“It’s important we have stated the Labour the case, we have done so effectively here and we have demonstrated what we want to do locally in terms of investment,” he said.
Coun Gregson made the admission many voters had revealed their distrust in politicians and called for a ‘bottom up’ approach in tackling the issue in Worcester.
“We have to work with all the parties locally and see if there is a way and demonstrate the importance of voting in elections such as these,” he said.
“We have to recognise how local people feel and let’s step up to their marks.”