Voter turnout stood at 36.6%Louis Ashworth

Labour maintained its overall majority in Cambridge's local council elections yesterday, despite a significant uptake in support for the Liberal Democrats.

16 of the 42 seats on Cambridge City Council were open for election in yesterday’s polling, as well as one seat on Cambridgeshire County Council following the resignation of councillor Donald Adey.

Labour increased its number of seats from 25 to 26 in a by-election instigated by the death of the late mayor Nigel Gawthrope, who died in January in a tragic diving accident. Fellow Labour councillor Alexandra Collis was elected to the vacant seat in King's Hedges ward last night.

The Liberal Democrats, who previously held 13 seats, won 2 seats to become the second-largest local party presence at 15 seats.

The student wards of Newnham, Market and Castle, which contain nine, eight and eleven colleges respectively, all saw comfortable wins for the Liberal Democrats, who secured around 50% of the vote in all three wards.

The Green Party saw its vote share increase from 9% last year to 15% in yesterday’s elections.

However, despite fielding 15 candidates and seeing a distinct increase in its vote share, the party lost its only seat to the Lib Dems in Market Ward, where Katie Porrer was elected.

The Conservatives and UKIP also failed to take any seats.

Cambridge City Council is now comprised of 26 Labour seats, 15 Lib Dems, and 1 Independent.

Turnout at this year’s election stood at 36.6%, a slight decline in turnout from last year’s 37.8%.

Campaigning in the preceding weeks centred around the issues of traffic congestion, homelessness and climate change.

The year saw gains by the Liberal Democrats relative to those of Labour. The Liberal Democrats won 35% of the vote compared to last year’s 32%, while Labour only secured 37%, down from last year’s 47%.

Labour’s shock victory in Trumpington last year was not reflected in this year’s results. All three seats for the area – two on the city council and one on the county council following the resignation of Donald Adey – went to the Liberal Democrats with comfortable majorities.

Alongside Alexandra Collis, a second seat in King's Hedges ward was open for election. Another Labour councillor, Kevin Price, successfully stood for re-election in the ward.

After results came in, Labour City Council leader Lewis Herbet thanked residents and emphasised the importance of tackling climate change. “The biggest change was the green vote, so we’ll be listening and we’ll be doing more for our city in the coming year”, he told Cambridgeshire Live.

Alfie Robinson, a second-year Art Historian at Downing, was one University student to have participated in the local elections, citing “transport, homelessness and the environment” as key factors behind his decision to vote for the Liberal Democrats in Market ward.

UKIP candidate for Chesterton ward Peter Burckinshaw provoked controversy in the final days of campaigning concerning comments he had made in the Cambridge Independent, in which Burckinshaw suggested that rough sleepers should be “round up” and placed “in a camp outside the city”.


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The gains made by the Liberal Democrats in Cambridge are reflected in the national results which have so far seen the Liberal Democrats make significant gains, while both the Conservatives and Labour have lost out. This has been blamed on anger at the two biggest parties’ handling of Brexit.

Tim Bick, the Liberal Democrat group leader on Cambridge City Council, said that Brexit had frequently come up while campaigning door-to-door, adding that: “There is a feeling of massive letdown in a strongly Remain city that the Labour Party are now aiding and abetting Brexit and continue to sit on the fence about a People’s Vote.”

Last year saw some big swings to the Liberal Democrats, but Labour kept its ten-seat majority on the council, losing Market but gaining an unprecedented victory in Trumpington. Katie Thornburrow won the seat for the first time since 1945 with an 8% swing from the Liberal Democrats, and by a margin of just 4 votes.

The European Parliamentary Elections on 23 May constitute the next major election in which residents of Cambridge will be expected to participate.

Updated 3 May 2019: This article was updated to clarify that the addition of 1 seat to the Labour Party's majority was the result of a by-election for King's Hedges ward, in which one seat had been made vacant by the tragic death of Nigel Gawthrope in January.

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