Ashfield Independents celebrate after landslide victory in council election

The Ashfield Independents have won a landslide majority at the Ashfield District Council election - which saw them pick up 30 out of 35 seats.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 11:05 am
Updated Monday, 6th May 2019, 8:16 am
Councillors Jason Zadrozny and Tony Brewer celebrate as they discover the Ashfield Independents have secured a majority.

The result saw key Labour figures lose their position on the council as the Ashfield Independents picked up victories in 21 out of the 23 council wards on May 2.

It has also seen the Conservative group become the official opposition on the council, with the Tories picking up three seats compared to Labour's two.

It was only in Hucknall South and Hucknall West where the Ashfield Independent group, led by Councillor Jason Zadrozny, did not pick up seats, with most new AI councillors receiving a vote share of more than 65 per cent.

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Councillors Jason Zadrozny and Tony Brewer celebrate as they discover the Ashfield Independents have secured a majority.

Independent members in the rurals such as Sam Wilson, formally district councillor for Selston, also lost their seats in the Ashfield Independent gains.

FOR A FULL LIST OF WINNING CANDIDATES IN EACH WARD, AND HOW VOTES WERE SHARED, READ OUR LIVE BLOG FROM THE ELECTION.Speaking on the result, Coun Zadrozny said he had "never seen anything like this" and described it is a "massive endorsement" to his group.

Coun Zadrozny, who increased his Larwood majority to 832, said: "Honestly I don't know what to say, what a shock. I've never seen anything like this.

"In the Ashfield constituency we are more than 23,000 votes ahead of Labour and it is a massive endorsement of what we've done.

Councillors Keir Morrison and Lauren Mitchell, of Hucknall North, are the only two remaining Labour councillors.

"We've tried a different type of politics, an open door politics.

"It seems to have paid off in big style, not just in the amount of councillors we have won but the enormous margins we have won by so I am delighted - and it is not just a win for us, it is a win for the people of Ashfield.

"Ashfield residents can now expect more of the same from this administration but without the hold-ups - we can crack on with our plans and create a real difference to the district.

"We're stood in Festival Hall for this count and by the next local election we will be stood in our new leisure centre that we have already committed to, with two swimming pools.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny.

"We're committed to real investment in our parks, our centres and our high streets, and I think people will actually see what a different we will make with full control over the council.

"It's about proud town centres and making sure people get what they pay for with their council tax, and we are all looking forward to delivering that for our residents."

High-profile Labour councillors such as former council leaders Cheryl Butler and John Knight saw their seats snatched by the Independents in the landslide result, which saw Labour drop from 14 to two sitting councillors.

John Knight, who represented the Summit ward, lost his seat to a majority of more than 1,000 votes while Cheryl Butler lost her Kirkby Cross and Portland seat to a majority of more than 700 votes.

At 4am, a spectator could no longer hack the election count.

Speaking on how Labour will recover from the defeat, Mrs Butler said: "We're disappointed because, although the results are probably not unexpected, the national picture is not good for Labour or the Conservatives.

"We have got to sit down, look at what's happened and we've got to hold the Ashfield Independents to account, even just as members of the public.

"A lot of the polices they are putting forward are policies we already had in place, but we need to make sure that what they have promised is delivered on for the electorate.

"There are lots of us in the district that are still going to be out there working. We are going to regroup and we will be out there holding them to account - attending council meetings as members of the public to make sure the Labour voice is still heard.

"I'm going to be watching them very carefully and making sure the electorate know what is happening.

"It's sad that I've lost my seat because I've been a councillor for eight years, but I'm still here fighting and I will still fight - I'm strong, and that was proved when I lost control of the council.

Councillor Tony Brewer, chairman of the council, with Coun Matthew Relf - who secured the biggest majority of the evening.

"I don't think it's an uphill struggle because I'm a positive person, and I'll take the positives from tonight such as getting triple figures in some wards, the two wins in Hucknall and the potential in the future."

Labour returned its two seats in Hucknall South, where Councillors Keir Morrison and Lauren Mitchell were re-elected by the public with 39 per cent of the overall vote.

Three seats in Hucknall West were retained by Conservative councillors Kevin Rostance, Phil Rostance and Chris Baron, who collectively picked up 43 per cent of the votes in their ward.

Cheryl Butler, former council and Labour leader, lost her Kirkby Cross and Portland seat by 700 votes.