Derbyshire election results - how the parties fared in battle for Amber Valley

The Conservatives have retained control of Amber Valley Borough Council but the Green Party has made hard-won inroads in an area typically dominated by red and blue politics.

Friday, 6th May 2022, 9:28 am

Heading into the election, the Conservatives had expected to be effectively punished for anger felt by the electorate towards national politicians in the wake of Partygate and the recent porn in Parliament scandal.

So prevalent was this potential doom and gloom feeling that Cllr Kevin Buttery, Amber Valley Conservative leader, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service at the election count in Alfreton: “We are unlikely to gain any seats. A good result for us would be to retain control of the council.”

One Conservative councillor said: “If they want to punish Boris, they’ll fire us.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Conservatives had expected to be effectively punished for anger felt by the electorate towards national politicians in the wake of Partygate and the recent porn in Parliament scandal.

Read More

Read More
Derbyshire care home closures rubber stamped – as opposition acts to halt decisi...

However, instead of suffering losses or maintaining their position, the Conservatives made three key gains to take seats off Labour in Heanor & Loscoe, Ironville & Riddings, and Langley Mill & Aldercar.

This has left the Conservatives with a larger majority on the authority, with 30 councillors out of the 45.

Cllr Kevin Buttery put the success down to a focus on local issues and a positive campaign, saying that on the doorstep the focus was not on Boris Johnson and the party did not have to distance itself from the national Conservative Party in central Government.

Candidates at the count

He told the LDRS: “When I woke up this morning we were certainly bracing ourselves for a difficult night, but this has far exceeded all our expectations.

“To end the night with two extra councillors is a tremendous result.

“I put that down to the fact that we have run a very positive campaign, we focused really on balancing the (council) finances, we inherited a failing council and our priority was to sort out the finances.

“We wanted to focus on delivering the Heanor High Street project and the (Heanor) Grammar School and to focus on maintaining good quality services. I think that resonated with the public.

“I think what we saw from the opposition is that all they were focused on was having a referendum on the Prime Minister, with no policies to offer.”

Asked about the impact of national politics on the elections, Cllr Buttery said: “I think people have registered their concern but I think over all people have thought ‘this is about local politics so we’ll vote on local politicians’.”

Councillors and candidates asked about the main issues being raised by voters stressed that it was local concerns, such as the protection of Green Belt land and traffic, which were being raised – not qualms relating to central Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Before the elections, there was a lone Green Party councillor on the borough council, Cllr Dave Wells, elected in Duffield in 2019 as the first ever borough or county councillor in Derbyshire.

Since then, the Green Party has been going from strength to strength and gained its first county councillor through Cllr Gez Kinsella in the Duffield and Belper South division last May.

As a result, the Green Party were poised for further expansion this year and contested almost all 15 seats in the borough.

Key focused resources in Duffield through Jamie Walls and Belper South through Caroline McDermott paid off with the Green base now solidified in the area with a total of three borough councillors – making a party on the authority.

An overjoyed Cllr Wells, speaking to the LDRS said: “We are obviously very pleased to have two more borough councillors from the Green Party and I think it is justification for how hard we have worked, not just at election time, but we have worked hard throughout the year – people have told us that on the doorstep.”

Asked about a Green wave spreading through Derbyshire and to councils across England, Cllr Wells said: “It is not just the start, it is happening across the country, it is happening already.”

He said it was going to be “really beneficial” to the people of Amber Valley” to have three Green councillors on the authority.

When Cllr Buttery was asked about the expansion of the Green Party in the borough, he said: “I think it is understandable when we have concerns over climate change. They have a voice the same as everyone else’s.

“The real ones that will actually deliver climate change are those such as ourselves who are actually in control.”

Labour had gone into this election with the slim but potential chance to take back control of the authority after losing it to the Conservatives last year in a significant defeat for the party. Its own leader, Cllr Chris Emmas-Williams lost his seat in that election.

On the night, Labour found its numbers reduced by four councillors, dropping from 15 to 11 and into a much smaller minority to the Conservative administration.

Cllr Emmas-Williams regained his spot on the council with victory in Codnor & Waingroves and Steve Marshall-Clarke – who lost his seat in an unexpected defeat in the county council elections last year – gained a spot on the borough authority.

When Cllr Emmas-Williams lost his seat last year he had said: “The voters have let us down. I hope they don’t live to regret it.”

In his acceptance speech, Cllr Emmas-Williams said: “I want to thank all the voters of Codnor & Waingroves for re-electing me as their councillor. Once again, it is a real pleasure for me to serve the community.”

Cllr Ben Bellamy, leader of the Amber Valley Labour Group, told the LDRS: “I am really pleased with quite a few of the results, winning in Alfreton which we lost last year and winning in Codnor & Waingroves, which we lost last year.

“There are a few disappointing results in the Heanor area but there is a lot to deliver and promised in the Heanor area by the Conservatives and we don’t think they can deliver and we are holding them to the fire over that.”

Cllr Bellamy suspects that Labour will be able to gain the Heanor seats next year in the council’s first all-out election and retake control of the authority.

Asked about the influence of national politics on the election, Cllr Bellamy said: “National politics always plays a big part in local elections and is sometimes really hard to cut through.

“I think there has been a breakdown in trust in politics generally which has been caused by the goings on and shenanigans in the head of the Conservative Party in Government, which is putting people off.

“Take a look at the turnout, turnout in some wards of 25 per cent, 35 per cent, when really we should be at 50, 60, 70 per cent.”

Asked about the increase in the Green Party, Cllr Bellamy said: “I am always happy when the Conservatives lose a seat. One less Tory is always something to celebrate.”

This was a historic election for the borough council itself, which moves to all-out elections once every four years starting next May.

As a result, all councillors will be up for election and those elected this year will have a one-year term.

This moves the council away from electing in thirds, with 15 seats out of the 45 up for a vote three years in a row with a fallow year with no election.

The change is aimed at making the authority more able to commit to and draw up long-term plans and also to save money by having fewer elections.

Cllr Kate Smith, on behalf of the Amber Valley Liberal Democrats, said this year has been effectively a base-building exercise for the party.

She said there had been “plenty of disillusion with the Tories” on the doorstep.