Reaction to local election results
TEENAGER Joe Harris led the mighty charge of the Liberal Democrats in the Cotswolds as the party bucked the national trend and made significant inroads into the district council in last week's elections.
While disgruntled voters across the UK punished the Liberal Democrats for the coalition government, Cotswold voters seized the opportunity to reduce Tory influence at CDC.
The fiercely campaigning Liberal Democrats significantly closed the gap on the ruling Conservatives last Thursday as they more than doubled the number of their seats from five to 12.
Their biggest success came in Cirencester, where the Lib Dems bagged nine of the 10 available seats.
The Independents also reaped a bumper crop with five seats, an increase of three from the last election.
The Tories, however, despite suffering a 10-seat loss, still comfortably held on to a majority, bagging 27 seats of the 44 available.
Among the shock oustings were Cirencester mayor Geoffrey Adams, who lost his Cirencester Park seat, and in Fairford former mayor Chris Roberts lost her CDC seat.
Lib Dem leader Paul Hodgkinson, who retained his Churn Valley seat by 165 votes, said he was delighted with the results and was proud of all the candidates.
"As a party this is the first step in restoring proper democracy into CDC," he said.
"I feel vindicated in standing up to the CDC administration and our party, including myself, has been given the mandate to continue asking difficult questions and working towards a better Cotswolds."
Joe, just18 years, three months and five days when elected – believed to be the youngest district councillor in the country – said he was elated to be elected to Cirencester Park ward, along with fellow Lib Dem Lee Searles.
Such was his success that he received a personal call of congratulation from party leader Nick Clegg, whom he met when the deputy prime minister came to Cirencester for a question and answer session.
Joe told the Standard: "I am proud that people have put their trust in me and I promise to return that favour. On the doorstep people would tell me they felt disengaged with current Tory councillors.
"We need more young people on the council so I hope this sets a precedent."
One surprising result saw Independent candidate for Fairford, Mark Wardle, elected to CDC ahead of long-serving Conservative councillor Chris Roberts.
He said: "This is my chance to stand up for what is right for Fairford. Previous councillors tended to vote for the Conservative group, rather than what would benefit Fairford.
"The town now has someone on the council who can focus on the town rather than a political allegiance."
Tory leader Lynden Stowe, who retained his Campden Vale seat, said the results were not a shock because the party had been at the end of negative publicity recently.
"I am not going to deny that the Lib Dems fought an effective, albeit quite negative, campaign in Cirencester," he said. "We do, however, have a clear mandate from the voters, a clear majority of the seats and, looking forward, all my colleagues are keen to get on with the really important work of the next four years."
Nick Clegg's pledge to transform the voting system took a pounding in the Cotswolds, as elsewhere, with voters in the referendum returning a resounding No to AV.
In total, 33,948 Cotswold residents turned out to vote in the referendum with 72 per cent of those - 24,367 residents - voting No to the Alternative Vote. Just 9,462 voted yes.
The overall national picture also showed a crushing defeat for the Lib Dems as 68 per cent of voters voted No.
The full list of candidates are: Ampney-Coln: Sir Edward Horsfall (Con)
Avening: Jim Pasons (Con)
Beacon Stow: David Penman (Con) Merryl Phillips (Con)
Blockley: Barry Dare (Con)
Bourton-on-the-Water: Sheila Jeffery (Con) Len Wilkins (Con)
Campden Vale: Mark Annett (Con) Sue Jepson (Con) Lynden Stowe (Con)
Chedworth: David Broad (Con)
Churn Valley; Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem)
Beeches: John Burgess (Con) John Hughes (Lib Dem)
Chesterton: Deryck Nash (Lib Dem) Margaret Rickman (Lib Dem)
Cirencester Park: Joe Harris (Lib Dem) Lee Searles (Lib Dem)
Stratton/Whiteway: Patrick Coleman (Lib Dem) Andy Lichnowski (Lib Dem)
Watermoor: Jenny Hincks (Lib Dem) Gary Selwyn (Lib Dem)
Ermin: Nicholas Parsons (Con)
Fairford: Raymond Theodoulou (Con) Mark Wardle (Ind)
Fosseridge: Michele Jeffery (Con)
Grumbolds Ash: Carolyn Nicolle (Con)
Hampton Ward: David Fowles (Con)
Kempsford-Lechlade: Sandra Carter (Con) Sue Coakley (Ind)
Moreton-in-Marsh: Robert Dutton (Con) Rod Hooper (Ind)
Northleach: Chris Hancock (Ind)
Rissingtons: Venetia Crosbie-Dawson (Con)
Riversmeet: Carole Topple (Con)
Sandywell: Robin Hughes (Con)
Tetbury: Barry Gibbs (Con) Diana Hicks (Con) Stephen Hirst (Ind)
Thames Head: John Birch (Con)
Three Rivers: Dominic Collier (Con)
Water Park: Clive Bennett (Con) Esmond Jenkins (Lib Dem) Juliet Layton (Lib Dem)
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