THE GREEN Party have gained two seats in the latest round of local elections and have strengthened their position as official opposition party in Solihull.
Across the borough, 17 seats were up for contention – with parties battling it out to make their impact on the Conservative-majority held council.
As well as holding seats in Chelmsley Wood and Shirley West, the Greens gained in Shirley South, with Max McLoughlin taking control from incumbent Conservative councillor and former mayor Gary Allport with a majority of 1,587 votes to 1,401.
They also took Smith’s Wood from incumbent Social Democrat Mike Sheriden – Jean Hamilton for the Greens winning 1,306 votes compared to 364 votes for Labour, 264 votes for UKIP, 96 for the Conservatives, and just 17 cast for Mr Sheriden.
This means the Green Party now control a total of 10 seats on the council.
Commenting on the local election results, leader of the Solihull Green Party, Coun James Burn said: “In Solihull, the only party to increase its number of seats was the Green Party. All the others remained the same or lost seats.
“In each of the four wards that we won, we had the highest ever vote share for a Green candidate, including a whopping 75 per cent in Chelmsley Wood.
“The biggest result of the night was Max McLoughlin winning Shirley South in a recount, beating a former mayor.
“These results are a clear signal from voters that they want more balance and accountability on Solihull Council, and that they trust the Green Party to continue to provide constructive opposition.”
The Conservative Party kept their control of Solihull council with a 32-seat majority.
Despite losing Shirley South to the Green Party, the Conservatives gained a seat in Blythe – with Alex Insley beating incumbent independent councillor Linda Brown with 1,598 votes to 1,048.
Congratulating the local Conservative party, Solihull MP Julian Knight said: “Last night’s elections show were are mostly the same as we were.
“It shows that the council continues to deliver, despite difficulties, and and that local people are generally happy that our town is well run.
“However, it does also show a continued collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote – locally and nationally.”
The Liberal Democrats, who took a beating in last year’s general election and lost long-serving Solihull MP Lorely Burt, managed to hold all six of their seats – including that of Solihull Mayor, Coun Glenis Slater.
But crucially the victories came with narrow victories in Lyndon, Olton, Elmdon – all three wards seeing their votes recounted.
In Lyndon, Ade Adeymo beat Paul Thomas with 159 votes, in Olton Jo Fairburn took victory for the Lib Dems over the Conservative’s Wazma Qais with just 125 votes, and in Elmdon Mayor Glenis Slater was re-elected with 1,175 votes – just 55 votes more than Michael Gough for the Conservatives.
This means the Liberal Democrats held on to their seats with a combined total of just over 330 votes – a stark comparison to the 1,919 majority they won the same seats with in 2012.
The Labour party held onto their only seat on the council with incumbent councillor Flo Nash winning the Kingshurt & Fordbridge ward.
UKIP did not gain any seats last night, though still hold two seats on the council in Kingshurt & Fordbridge.
The voter turnout was 31.34 per cent – just lower than 2014’s local election turnout of 33.86 per cent.