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Islington Labour leader will continue to be “inclusive” after landslide victory at elections

Cllr Richard Watts Cllr Richard Watts

Thursday, May 29, 2014
8:00 AM

The Labour leader of Islington Council has vowed to be a “listening” and “inclusive” administration after his party won a landslide victory at the local elections – leaving only one councillor in opposition.

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The new Islington Labour groupThe new Islington Labour group

Cllr Richard Watts said Labour candidates had “worked hard” in the lead-up to the election and the results spoke of a growing anger among local people frustrated with the coalition Government.

His party secured 47 of the 48 seats on the council – up from 36 in the 2010 election.

The group has a total of 21 new councillors, taking into account those who have stood down, and a total of 18 female councillors compared with 16 before.

The Liberal Democrats lost all of their 11 seats but have vowed to keep working for the community, while the Conservatives failed to win any seats but were the second most popular party in Barnsbury, Bunhill and St Peter’s wards.

The Green Party attracted almost 20 per cent of the overall votes cast – the second highest proportion of all the parties.

They came second in nine of Islington’s 16 wards and were amongst the three most popular parties in all but three wards.

Labour gained around 57 per cent of votes – a 50 per cent rise compared with their share of the vote in 2010, while the Lib Dems came third with 15 per cent and the Conservatives secured just over nine per cent.

Under a proportional representation system of local government, Labour would have ended up with 27 seats, the Green Party with nine, the Lib Dems with seven and the Tories would have secured five seats.

Cllr Watts said: “The results are better than what we were expecting. I think the people of the borough have sent a very clear message to the Government which has done so much to hurt them. The local election is the most powerful weapon this borough has– Islington is a high-profile borough and these results will get noticed in the corridors of power.

“And although we won by a massive margin Islington Labour will stay a listening and inclusive administration.”

Delighted

Newly-elected Green Party councillor Caroline Russell said: “We are delighted to have a Green councillor back on the council. Labour has almost 100 per cent of the seats but not 100 per cent of the votes. We came second in most of the wards and are now the official opposition.”

Cllr Russell said she would “work constructively” with Labour but also “challenge” them when they fail to act in the best interests of her Highbury East constituents.

She said it was going to be difficult holding the administration to account on her own but will work with residents and Green activists to ensure effective scrutiny.

Overall there were 59,597 verified votes counted representing 38.4 per cent of the electorate.

This number is down on the last election in 2010 when the turnout was 61.9 per cent, but that was a General Election year, which always attracts a higher interest.

In 2006, the last time when voters were only voting for local councillors, there was a 33 per cent turnout. Highbury East saw the highest turnout, and the lowest was in the Bunhill ward.

UKIP candidate Peter Muswell, who stood in Bunhill ward, secured 525 votes – more than both individual Lib Dem candidates.

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