WHILE Conservatives across the country were recoiling, Woking’s team in blue had reason to stand proud on election day.
Unlike their Tory counterparts elsewhere in the country, local Conservatives actually tightened their grip on the borough – but the result was by no means taken for granted.
Re-elected Councillor Carl Thomson, sporting a sweatshirt emblazoned with ‘Keep Calm Vote for Carl Thomson’, was especially exhausted, having arrived home at 5am on Friday after being at the polls the day before, and then interviewed on BBC London Radio about the
He told the News & Mail: “I am really grateful to residents who have given me this much electoral majority. I have worked very hard over the last four years to make sure they have been respected. There are a lot of challenges ahead, including making sure we get the Victoria Square development right and getting the best value from our investments in the town centre. I look forward to working on this and much more over the next two years.”
Newcomer, Conservative for Mayford & Sutton Green, Ayesha Azad, said: “I just want to thank the residents for their support. I promise to work hard on their behalf. I’d also like to thank Churchill House [party HQ] for their support and, to my campaign team, a huge thank you.”
Another newcomer, this time Conservative for Knaphill, Debbie Harlow, said: “I couldn’t have done it without residents’ and local support. Knaphill Cllrs Melanie Whitehand and Saj Hussain have been wonderful, and the staff at the Garibaldi pub I run have been spectacular. They have given me lots of time off and never complained. Long may it continue so I can fulfill my council work. For me it’s about the community and the village of Knaphill. I moved here nine years ago and I want to be the best so it continues to be the place it is now.”
Conservative County and Borough Councillor Hussain, said: “I am really, really pleased that Debbie will be joining us. We are very disappointed with Byfleet because Dorothy Farrant was an excellent councillor and we will miss her badly. The Sheerwater & Maybury result was unexpected but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. But we did really well with Knaphill, Goldsworth East and in Horsell West – to gain Lib Dem leader Ann-Marie Barker’s seat is something else.
“I also thank everyone in Goldsworth West. Our candidate Chitra Rana did very well. We have support from the residents who, until recently, have been untapped. We are addressing all the concerns in the ward. Conservatives are concerned about issues everywhere.”
Most ‘double-hatters’ do it the other way around and become a borough councillor before county. However, new to the Civic Chamber is Tory Cllr Colin Kemp, who said: “I hope the residents of Horsell West are showing their appreciation of the work I have done as a County Councillor. We are very active in the ward.”
Council Leader John Kingsbury, who was re-elected to his St Johns & Hook Heath seat, said: “I am also delighted with the overall result in Woking, in which the Conservatives won three seats from the Lib Dems with an outstanding win for Debbie Harlow in Knaphill, a superb victory for Rizwan Shah in Goldsworth East, and a great result for Colin Kemp in Horsell West, unseating Lib Dem Leader Anne-Marie Barker. It is, of course, disappointing that Dorothy Farrant narrowly missed out in Byfleet to an Independent candidate, and also in Maybury & Sheerwater where a former councillor took the seat on behalf of Labour.
However, this was a great result for the Conservatives, achieved with a targeted campaign, excellent and positive literature, and a manifesto that highlighted our impressive record of action and the promise of much more to come. We secured 44 per cent of the vote across all wards contested, indicating that residents are generally happy with the way Conservatives are running the borough.
“I am now looking forward to a new administration getting back to work and delivering on our programme for the next year, which will include the opening of our long-awaited indoor market, exciting new restaurants in Commercial Way, and further progress on Victoria Square and plans for Marks & Spencer returning to the town.”
Also returning to the Civic Offices is Conservative Councillor for West Byfleet, Gary Elson, with a huge majority of nearly 700 votes.
WOKING’S COUNCILLORS AND THEIR WARDS
BROOKWOOD Kevin Davis – Conservative
BYFLEET John Bond – Independent, Anne Roberts – Lib Dem, Esther Watson Green – Conservative
GOLDSWORTH EAST Hilary Addison – Conservative, Amanda Coulson – Lib Dem, Rizwan Shah – Conservative
GOLDSWORTH WEST Denzil Coulson – Lib Dem, Ian Eastwood – Lib Dem
HERMITAGE & KNAPHILL SOUTH Ken Howard – Lib Dem, Tina Liddington – Lib Dem
HORSELL EAST & WOODHAM Anne Murray – Conservative, Michael Smith – Conservative
HORSELL WEST Colin Kemp – Conservative, Tony Branagan – Conservative, Beryl Hunwicks – Conservative
KINGFIELD & WESTFIELD Will Forster – Lib Dem, Derek McCrum – Lib Dem
KNAPHILL Debbie Harlow – Conservative, Saj Hussain – Conservative, Melanie Whitehand – Conservative
MAYBURY & SHEERWATER Mohammad Ilyas Raja – Labour, Mazaffar Ali –Conservative, Mohammed Rashid – Conservative
MAYFORD & SUTTON GREEN Ayesha Azad – Conservative
MOUNT HERMON EAST David Bittleston – Conservative, Carl Thomson – Conservative
MOUNT HERMON WEST Ian Johnson – Lib Dem, Liam Lyons – Lib Dem
OLD WOKING Louise Morales – Lib Dem
PYRFORD Graham Chrystie – Conservative, Ashley Bowes – Conservative
ST JOHNS & HOOK HEATH Graham Cundy – Conservative, John Kingsbury – Conservative
WEST BYFLEET Gary Elson – Conservative, Richard Wilson – Conservative