FOR the first time in ten years, the Conservatives have lost power of Brentwood Borough Council following a dramatic election night.
Opposition parties took four seats from the Tories to leave them with no overall control. A four-way coalition group is now expected to strike a deal to lead the borough.
The Tories started the night knowing if they lost three seats they would lose control.
Of the four they lost, Herongate, Ingrave and West Horndon to the Brentwood First group was the biggest surprise in what traditionally is a Tory stronghold.
The First group dramatically turned a Conservative majority of 794 to one for them of 129.
The Warley and Brentwood West wards went to the Lib Dems, and Brentwood South to Labour.
Independent Roger Keeble, whose Tipps Cross ward wasn’t up for election this year, is the fourth member of the coalition group.
Brentwood First now has four seats on the council. Leader William Lloyd was delighted with their performance, but knows the hard work starts now.
He said: “It’s what we’ve been campaigning for. The first phase we know is going to be a difficult job.
“We need to find a structure that works for all of us, and we need to understand the depth of the issues at town hall.”
Labour leader Mike Le Surf said the change in power was recognition that the people of Brentwood had had enough of Tory leadership, and were fed up with Brentwood “going nowhere” with the likes of the William Hunter Way development.
He said: “We don’t think Brentwood has gone anywhere in the last five years. We’ve stagnated and nothing has happened. People are fed up with it and that shows from this election.
“We all want to do what’s best for Brentwood. At the end of the day we’re Brentwood lads.”
Lib Dem councillor James Sapwell, the party chairman, said in a statement: “We pride ourselves on our local work and we will rely on it as we move forward.
“We know that those who voted were disenchanted with the way the town was being run, and they have given us the opportunity to arrest the decline. We know that like our predecessors we will be judged on what we will achieve, and we must prove that we can do it better.”
The run up to the election was messy for the Tory group, after David Bishop was forced to stand down from his candidacy in Brentwood South after posting anti-islamic and homophobic tweets.
Tory and now former council leader Louise McKinlay was obviously disappointed with how the election went, but said it was important to put the result into context.
She said: “The result was only for a third of the seats. We lost two seats out of 37.
“The result means we’ve got no overall control but it’s not the landslide the opposition predicted. We have to put it into context. We would have seen it far further reaching if it was that.”
Brentwood Borough Council as it now stands:
Lib Dems 11