By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter: The Liberal Democrats have won 41 seats on Bath and North East Somerset Council elections – increasing their majority and securing their coveted second term in office. Pictured are a delighted Kevin Guy the council leader with Bath’s Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse at the count (photo by Jonathan Holmes of the BBC).
Control of the council had tended to go back and forth between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives at each election, but this time the Conservatives were almost completely wiped out, winning only three seats. Four years ago they had more than ten times that number and were running the council.
In a bitter final blow to the party, Conservative group leader Vic Pritchard lost his Chew Valley seat to the Liberal Democrats. Both of the wards seats went to the Liberal Democrats, ending Mr Pritchard’s 37 years on the council.
It is the second consecutive election in Bath and North East Somerset where the Conservative leader has been unseated, with then council leader Tim Warren losing his Mendip seat to Liberal Democrat David Wood in 2019.
Mr Wood held on to his seat, which includes Conservative MP for North East Somerset Jacob Rees-Mogg’s family home, with 75% of the vote, but Mr Warren did get back on the council, winning a seat in Midsomer Norton Redfield.
Labour are now the official opposition with five councillors and hopes to hold on to their two seats in Paulton when that poll, which has been postponed, is conducted. The Greens — who previously only had one councillor who joined the party through a defection — achieved their goal of becoming a group on the council.
They had three councillors elected, including Bath’s “Bicycle Mayor” Saskia Heijtjes, who unseated the actual Mayor of Bath Rob Appleyard in Lambridge.
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