Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: The Votes Are In But Who Will Win?

Published on: 7 May, 2021
Updated on: 7 May, 2021

Counting has now commenced (Friday morning) as tensions rise amid fevered speculation by Surrey voters about who will be their county councillors for the next four years.

County results are forecast as early as 4pm today. Others could take longer, due to social distancing, and there is more uncertainty this time than for many years.

Conservatives have dominated Surrey politics since national party affiliations became common for local councillors in the 1960s and their success in the Hartlepool by-election will have boosted the morale but the results in the borough council election of 2019 have given other parties increased hope.

See also: Does 2019 Tory Defeat Now Threaten Party’s Long Grip On the County?

And unlikely results from intriguing battles hover over most of the 10 Guildford divisions. This time the count will be made in reverse alphabetic order so the first result will be the Worplesdon Division where Keith Witham (Con) is defending a majority of 2,033.

Only in 1993 did the Conservatives lose control of the county council in recent times. Surrey comprises 81 divisions.

The Conservatives have dominated Surrey politics since national party affiliations became commonplace for local councillors in the 1960s but the results in the borough council election of 2019 have given other parties increased hope.

Most of the ten Guildford divisions have intriguing battles which could produce unlikely results.

In Ash, a Conservative redoubt in the 2019 borough election, a popular Lib Dem candidate, Carla Morson, who organised community work during the pandemic, aims to overturn that large Conservative majority.

Complaints have rumbled from residents about Conservative candidate Nigel Manning’s clumsy performance as chairman of the parish council in online meetings but will that affect the result?

At the opposite end of the borough, residual unhappiness about the Local Plan, although not a county council issue, could be decisive. Conservative incumbent Julie Iles, with another large majority, has often voiced her opposition to the Plan, with its inclusion of Wisley Airfield as a strategic development site.

This map of the 2017 SCC election result shows the clear domination of the Conservatives.

But her Residents for Guildford & Villages opponent, Colin Cross, overturned a similarly daunting Tory majority when he won the Lovelace ward for the Lib Dems in 2015, before leaving them in 2018 and joining R4GV the following year.

The advent of R4GV has changed local politics in Guildford significantly, and it seems surprising to recall the party sprang into existence only two years ago. They are challenging in six of the 10 divisions but securing even just one county council seat could be seen as a success. If not The Horsleys, perhaps they will cause an upset in Shalford?

In the rural Division of Shere, the field has been left clear by Labour, the Lib Dems and R4GV for the two “Green” parties to take on the Conservatives but the non-Conservative vote is still going to be split between the Guildford Greenbelt Group and the Green Party.

GGG feels let down by the Green Party’s decision to stand but they say their politics are different, which they clearly are, and they felt unable to pass up on the chance to repeat their success of 2015 when Diana Jones became the first Green Party member of GBC.

Guildford North, West and South West are probably safe bets for the Lib Dems but they will be hoping to add Guildford East to increase their dominance in the town divisions.

Their active and energetic candidate George Potter will be hoping the poor performance of the previous Conservative councillor will persuade voters to support him.

Again in Guildford East, the non-Conservative vote will be split and this is a likely weakness of the challenge to the incumbent Conservatives. With as little as 35% of the vote it is possible they could hang on to all their existing seats.

So much uncertainty should make for a particularly interesting count and there are three borough council by-elections too, Friary & St Nicolas, Pirbright, and Send.

If these seats do change, probably a less likely outcome, it could affect the balance of power at GBC.

The Guildford Dragon will be bringing the results as they happen from the count at Spectrum Leisure Centre so please visit our website regularly to see the latest election news.


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