Labour won a landslide 94 out of the 126 seats available on Durham County Council in last Thursday’s local elections, increasing their majority to a comfortable 62.
Dale Bihari, the Co-Chair of the Durham University Labour Club (DULC), said he was amazed by the results. ‘We’ve taken places like Sherburn and Belmont and wiped out the Lib Dem councillors there,’ he said. ‘We’ve also made gains in Deerness and various other places.’
‘I expect the Lib Dems will attempt to talk up their performance by emphasising their hold on places like Elvet and Gilesgate but their majority was dramatically reduced and we have high hopes for the future.’
It was a bad night for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats as they lost seven and sixteen councillors respectively. It was also a disappointing night for the Green Party who failed to secure any seats.
But the Liberal Democrats held on in the student areas of Durham City, winning in Elvet and Gilesgate, Neville’s Cross and picking up Durham South from Labour.
Nigel Martin, a former Principal of Trevelyan College, and Grenville Holland, a former President of the Durham University Cricket Club, were re-elected in Neville’s Cross promising to prioritise green issues and housing when representing students in County Hall.
Mr Martin said: “We have been lobbying hard to introduce mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation(HMO) licensing for all properties.
“We also want to see a mandatory code of standards for landlords in Durham City. To date there have only been voluntary ones via the DSU Accommodation Office and they don’t really have enough traction with the body of landlords.”
David Freeman and Richard Ormerod were elected for the Lib Dems in Elvet and Gilesgate whilst David Stoker won a tight four-way marginal in Durham South.
Joe Donnelly, the President of the Durham University Liberal Democracts, said he was pleased with the results in Durham City. He said: “We won the student vote in the Hill Colleges but it was close. We got around 30% whilst the Tories, Greens and Labour were around 20-26%.
“We also won the polling station in the Elvet and Gilesgate ward that covers the Bailey students but there was very low student turnout. Across the county it was a difficult night once you left Durham City but that was always going to happen in former mining areas once we went into coalition.
“But in the Durham City constituency Labour didn’t make the inroads they needed to stop this being a Labour/Lib Dem marginal seat.”
Nine students from the Durham University Conservative Association (DUCA) were standing as candidates in the election and they won 1,477 votes overall. Their best performance came in Durham South where DUCA’s Political Officer, Jonathan Duell, achieved 3rd place with 15% of the vote.
Mr Duell said: “In challenging political times the DUCA team has been delighted by the enthusiastic contributions to many hard-fought campaigns by a large number of our dedicated members.
“The positive responses we received from students and local residents alike emphasised the benefits of engaging with real political issues on the doorsteps of County Durham.
“Smart spending and fresh thinking are the key to rebuilding trust in local politics, and we’ll continue to fight for common sense representation all year round.”
Published in Palatinate Online, Durham’s Official Student Newspaper, 9th May 2013 – http://www.palatinate.org.uk/?p=39202