WORCESTER’S Green Party continued its impressive record of picking up seats on the City Council on a night which saw the Conservatives come within 198 votes of losing three more seats at the Guildhall.
Coun Majory Bisset is the new councillor for St Stephen after polling 1,067 votes, 556 more than Conservative Gareth Jones to ensure the ward is now controlled by Green Party councillors.
The Green surge in Worcester has seen the party take seats in St Stephen and Battenhall in recent years alongside Coun Matthew Jenkins success in being elected to Worcestershire County Council.
Coun Louis Stephen’s party almost pulled of an incredible upset in the Conservative safe seat of Warndon Parish South as Andrew Cross came within 34 votes of replacing Coun Lucy Hodgson as local member on a night of tension for the Tories.
Speaking to the Observer after the results, Coun Stephen said the result was just reward for the hard work put in by the party during the campaign.
“‘I’m very pleased we increased our vote across the city and especially pleased for Majory in St Stephen and Andrew in Warndon Parish South. To come so close there this time means that seat is one to watch for the future,” he said.
The Greens’ finished second in Arboretum, ahead of the Conservatives, third in Claines ahead of Labour and improved on their 2015 showings in Nunnery, St Clement, St Johns, St Peter’s Parish and Warndon Parish North to finish third in each ward ahead of UKIP.
“It’s a very hard result for Labour and the Conservatives in Worcester. At this stage of the parliamentary cycle you would expect Labour to do a lot better,” Coun Stephen added.
While the Conservatives only lost one seat on the night, they came within 69 votes of losing Cathedral to Labour and 95 of losing Claines to the Liberal Democrats which could have left the party with just 14 seats at the Guildhall.
Council leader Coun Marc Bayliss admitted he was relieved by the results and said: “I’ve said before I think this like a deliverance. We seriously thought we were in very difficult waters, Brexit has been terrible for us.
“I actually asked someone to pinch me because if you said I would have ended up with 17 seats at the start of the night I would have never dreamt it.
“We didn’t expect the Green challenge in Warndon Parish South, I think they are the biggest surprise again, they nearly took a seat from Labour in Arboretum. They have done well.
“But to hold Ditta’s seat in Cathedral when we have lost there in the last two elections is pretty amazing given this backdrop,” he added.
Labour leader Coun Adrian Gregson welcomed the addition of Coun Jenny Barnes who retained the Arboretum seat for the party to mean there are more female councillors than male in the Labour party, a distinction he said his party should be proud of.
“The Tories have lost one seat to the Greens, they have clung on by their fingernails in others. They have been smearing and issuing dirty tricks as usual and I think what we need to do now is try and make sure what we do locally is to build and develop the city of Worcester,” he said.
“We need make things right here, getting rid of some of the nastiness and the parliamentary language which seems to have crept into our politics.”
In response Coun Bayliss said: “Tempers are sometimes raised in the council which is a disappointment but actually since we have gone back to the committee system we work better than we used to.
“I’ll be back working with Adrian next week, we’ve moved Worcester forwards faster in this period than I think would have been possible with minority administrations.
“We thrash our differences out and come to a compromise, sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t,” he added.