Statement from Hertsmere Labour Leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark on May 2019 Local Government Election Results in the Borough:

“I am delighted to be leading an enlarged opposition in the Hertsmere Chamber.  We will continue to fight for better infrastructure, more investment in public services and provision of genuinely affordable homes across the Borough.

I want to thank the thousands of people across the Borough who voted for our candidates.  We are proud to have presented local people a radical progressive alternative.

We proved that there are no no-go areas for Labour in Hertsmere.  We didn’t take the easy route of just campaigning in targeted seats.  We worked hard, even in areas that Labour has not succeeded in for many years.  We have gained a foothold in those areas and will be back – not just at the next elections, but week after week.  We’ll be speaking out for local people who have had enough of the Tories taking their votes for granted. We forced the Tories to work in areas they have neglected for years – it is no longer an option for them to hide in their ivory towers between elections.  Many previously safe Tory seats are now marginals.

We gave the Tories a bloody nose.  They are on the back foot. Hertsmere Tory Leader Morris Bright saw his personal vote slashed to half its 2015 size  – a clear verdict on misuse of public assert Elstree Studio’s funds and resources for personal and party political purposes.  His leadership is under serious question.

We gained two seats from the Tories in Potters Bar and came very close to gaining two more.  Christopher Myers & Christian Grey will be stellar additions to the Labour Group having run one of the most dynamic campaigns Potters Bar has seen for years.  The results in that part of the Borough place Morris Bright’s County seat at risk in next year’s County Council elections.

Tory casualties included the seat of Jane West – the Hertsmere Conservative Election Agent who allowed her imprint to appear on offensive letters full of lies and smears  that were delivered exclusively to Jewish households in Elstree & Borehamwood. The Tories also lost their designated Deputy Borough Mayor.

In Borehamwood’s Cowley Hill and Kenilworth Wards we maintained the gains we made at by-elections in 2017 and 2018 as well as gaining an additional seat from the Tories.  We narrowly missed winning a third seat in Kenilworth for popular local campaigner Dan Ozarow under knife edge circumstances in a ballot that ended up in the drawing of lots after two recounts led to a tie being declared.  Despite this, we know that Dan will go on to play a significant role in local politics and beyond.

We welcome the return of Liberal Democrat Councillors to the Chamber in Hertsmere and intend to work with them as part of an enlarged opposition, where our policies and interests align.  However, we are clear that any such collaboration must be based upon principles, values and what is in the interest of local people.

Town & Parish Councils play an important part in local democracy.  Their access to Community Infrastructure Levy funds means they will become even more significant.  Local people in Borehamwood have realised this. This is why we are proud to have slashed the Tory majority on the Borehamwood & Elstree Town Council to just one.  Newly elected Labour Town Councillors will work hard to break the dominance of a small clique of Tories who have treated the Town Council as their personal plaything for far too long. We will fight for a Town Council that takes responsibility for filling key gaps in vital public services.

The significance of the vast number of spoiled ballot papers in Hertsmere is not lost on us.  We recognise the message that has been sent to all Councillors of all parties. As a local Party, proud of putting the local community first, we and our Councillors will be redoubling our efforts to engage with local people at every level.  We will start with regular local policy consultations across the Borough. Open to all, regardless of whether or not they are Labour members or supporters.

We also recognise the message that the local Jewish community has sent our Party.  We know that concerns about antisemitism led to many longstanding Jewish Labour voters staying at home or voting for other parties.  In some cases enough to ensure we failed to win more seats in wards like Kenilworth, Brookmeadow & Hillside. We owe it to those voters to continue, as Hertsmere Labour, to be at the vanguard of fighting antisemitism within our Party and pressing for the zero tolerance approach advocated by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.”

Elstree & Borehamwood Town Council Labour Group Leader Designate Cllr Richard Butler added:

“The political balance of the Town Council now hinges upon one vote.  It can’t be business as usual for the Tories. We will work constructively to modernise the Town Council and ensure it uses its growing funds and resources in the interests of local people – not niche interest groups”.

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