The Liberal Democrats have gained a working majority on Bristol City Council for the first time ever, after Thursday’s council elections in the city.
They now have 36 seats, compared to 17 Conservatives, 16 Labour and 1 Green. This gives them the power to run the city council without support from any of the other parties.
Bristol’s Lib dem leader Barbara Janke said: “It is absolutely fantastic. We’re really pleased and we’re privileged to be the first Liberal Democrat administration on Bristol City Council.”
“If you look over the last few years, the Liberal Democrats have been gaining seats across the city. We were the largest group across the city with 32. We’ve now gained the extra 4 for a majority.
“But this is something that has been going on for some time. I do believe that the city wants change. It’s had 20 years of Labour. Things have moved on now and we have the opportunity to deliver the things that the people of the city want.”
Labour’s vote collapsed on the night, as voters took their frustration with Gordon Brown’s government out on Bristol’s Labour candidates.
Labour were defending 10 seats and held only two, with four falling to the Conservatives and four to the Lib Dems.
They even lost the previously rock-solid Southmead ward to the Lib Dems. Deputy Labour leader Peter Hammond lost the seat by 20 votes to Jaqueline Bowles.
He put his defeat down squarely to a protest against Labour, and called on senior Labour politicians to stop the in-fighting and resignations of the last few days.
He said: “I’m amazed at what is going on at a national level. I think national politicians do need to go back to the grass roots of the party and find out what the party thinks.
“It cannot be helpful to a Labour government or the Labour party to have cabinet ministers behaving as they are, apparently without regard to what the rank and file of the party thinks.”
The Conservatives achieved their ambition of becoming the second party on the city council. They won an extra four seats and become the main opposition party.
Tory leader Richard Eddy said: “The people of Bristol and in councils up and down the country are rejecting Gordon Brown. They want clear leadership, they want change and they want a general election now.
“He and his government is increasingly discredited and do not represent the people of this country. We must have change now.”
The predicted flight of voters from the big three parties to minor ones such as the Greens and the BNP did not happen. Neither won any more seats.
A Green Party source told us they were searching for “crumbs of comfort” from the results.