Lib Dems storm to Bristol election victory
The Liberal Democrats stormed to an historic victory in the local elections in Bristol.
They took overall control of the city council on a night that saw Labour suffer one of their most humiliating defeats in living memory.
The Lib Dems gained four seats which took their total to 36 while the Tories also gained four to make them the official opposition with 17 seats.
Labour lost eight of the ten seats they were defending which means they are now in third place with 16 seats in the council chamber. The Greens have one seat.
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It is believed to be the first time since before the Second World War that Labour have suffered so badly.
The Lib Dems’ victory means an end to Bristol’s “hung” council after six years with no party in overall control.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg visited Bristol today to congratulate members of the party.
There were cheers and rapturous applause from the jubilant party members at the Council House.
Mr Clegg made speeches to the Bristol councillors about what the win means for the Liberal Democrats and Labour.
He then took time to speak to the councillors who had won seats as the party took 36 of Bristol’s 70 seats.
Lib Dem leader Barbara Janke said the result meant they now had a clear mandate to forge ahead with their policies.
She said: “This is a big night in Bristol’s politics.
“It’s a big achievement and I think it gives us a vote of confidence by people in the city to give the leadership it needs and allow us to achieve some of the things which we believe need to be done.”
Bristol West Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams, who used to be the party’s Bristol leader, said: “When I was leader of the group in 1995-97, there were only nine of us and Labour had more than 50 councillors.
“Now they are in third place which is an extraordinary turn of events.”
Labour leader Helen Holland said: “This was always going to be a very difficult night for us.
“We always suffer when there is a poor turnout and we have seen an unprecedented set of circumstances which has seen people looking for somewhere to make a protest vote.”
She said the Lib Dems now had “nowhere to hide” because they had a clear majority and she added: “It will be interesting to see what they stand for.”
Tory leader Richard Eddy said: “Labour is in complete freefall. The party which ruled Bristol for more than 30 years has been reduced to third-party status.
“It’s unprecedented in recent Bristol’s politics.
“It has to be seen, not only as a rejection of Gordon Brown but also what Labour has failed to do for Bristol.”
One of the biggest scalps of the night was in Southmead where Labour’s deputy leader Peter Hammond lost his seat.
He said: “Obviously it is a big personal disappointment but the truth of it is that however good you are as a local representative, you are very much subject to national politics.”
Only two Labour councillors managed to hang on to their seats.
In Horfield and Kingsweston, the Labour councillors defending their seats – Rosalie Walker and Judith Price – were both knocked back into third place.
Local elections were not being held in North Somerset, South Gloucestershire or Bath and North East Somerset (Banes).
This is because they hold all-out elections every four years.
In Bristol, a third of the seats are contested every year.