Election results mean little change for the City Council

Image credit: Sophie Laura Weymes-McElderry

It was a night of few surprises for those who stayed up as the local election results were announced, with the majority of council seats kept by their previous incumbents. 

Elections took place in each of the city’s wards, for 15 of the 42 seats on Cambridge City Council. Each ward has one seat on the council, but there was an additional election taking place in East Chesterton, where a seat was vacant.

Ballots were swollen with students candidates this year, with four on a Conservative manifesto: Connor MacDowell in Newnham, Henry Mitson in Market ward, Timur Coskin in East Chesterton, and Dylan Coll-Reed in Arbury.

However, in what was probably the most shocking event of the night, student candidate Anthony Martinelli, who ran against Mitson for Market ward, turned the central ward yellow as the Liberal Democrat representative was duly elected with 866 votes. The ward was previously under Labour control with Dan Ratcliffe as councillor, as evidenced in the mere forty votes which separated the two candidates. 

The evening's proceeding were lengthened by two bundle checks, one in Castle ward, formerly under Independent control, and in Trumpington. Castle was later declared as a Lib Dem gain, whilst Antoinette Jackson, returning officer and Chief Executive of Cambridge City Council, declared a recount for Trumpington. 

However the delay was well worth the wait: there were only four votes separating the winner, Labour's Katie Thornburrow, from Lib Dem candidate Dan Hilken, with Thornburrow's 1,302 to Hilken's 1,298. 

With this, the city council remains firmly under Labour hold, with fellow Labour Party member Daniel Zeichner as the area's MP. Party members did prove a disruptive influence during the proceedings, at times preventing Jackson from reading the voting results in full with their cheers.

As soon as polls closed, count staff checked the number of postal ballot papers against the total number of people who registered for postal voting. All polling station ballots arrived at the Guildhall, where the voting count will take place, before 11pm. Each ballot box from the 15 wards will first be verified for the correct number of ballot papers. After that, the count for each candidate will be taken into account.

Eight candidates sought re-election, of which seven are Labour. Currently, the Labour Party has 26 seats on the Council, sweeping the elections with 46% of the vote, whilst the Liberal Democrats have 13 seats after coming second place with 28% of all votes. There are two Independent seats and one for the Greens.

Only 37.8% of registered voters turned out for the election, down from 58.8% in 2015. There are almost 90,000 registered voters in  Cambridge eligible to vote between 7am and 10pm in the city council elections.

Castle ward includes the largest number of colleges of all 15 wards, extending from Clare to Fitzwilliam colleges. It also includes some of the university's richest colleges, such as Trinity and St John's. In terms of registered voters, however, Trumpington has the largest share, with almost 10% of all eligible voters coming from the south Cambridge area.

List of wards and current party seats:

Abbey, Arbury (Lab), Castle, Cherry Hinton (Lab), Coleridge (Lab), East Chesterton (TWO SEATS, as the local election also coincides with a by-election), King’s Hedges (Lab), Market (Lab), Newnham (Lib Dem), Petersfield (Lab), Queen Edith’s, Romsey (Lab), Trumpington, West Chesterton.

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