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Stalemate in Southwark after dramatic election night

James Hatts

All five wards in the Southwark part of SE1 remain in Liberal Democrat hands, but at borough level the party failed to win the outright majority it was hoping for.

It was a long, tense night at The Academy at Peckham, the venue for the Southwark borough election counts and declarations.

The Lib Dems won comfortably in Cathedrals, Grange, Riverside and South Bermondsey wards, but in Chaucer ward there was high tension with a recount called before the result was finally declared just before 5am.

Cathedrals Ward

Danny McCarthy is joined by two new colleagues; prominent local community activist Adele Morris and David Noakes.

Noakes, who represented Faraday Ward between 1998 and 2002, told us that he was "delighted" by the result in Cathedrals.

Chaucer Ward

Lib Dems Tim McNally and Lorraine Zuleta topped the poll in Chaucer, though just 8 votes separated third-placed Lib Dem Mackie Sheik from Labour's Musadiq Dawadu.

Former Lib Dem councillor Dr Abdur-Rahman Olayiwola, who stood as an independent candidate in Chaucer ward after failing to be reselected by his party, polled just 289 votes.

Grange Ward

Grange is the only SE1 ward not to see at least a partial change in personnel, with sitting councillors Linda Manchester, Denise Capstick and Bob Skelly all returned with clear majorities.

Riverside Ward

Nick Stanton and Eliza Mann are joined by newcomer Paul Baichoo, who fills the vacancy left by the death of Stephen Flannery in February.

South Bermondsey Ward

The Lib Dems regained the seat they lost to the Conservatives when Kenny Mizzi defected in 2002.

Sitting councillor Paul Kyriacou is joined by Ade Lasaki and Helen Jardine-Brown, who says that the issue of housing is likely to dominate the agenda in South Bermondsey over the next four years.

Beyond SE1

The closest result of the night was in East Walworth, which includes a small portion of SE1 south of New Kent Road. After tortuous recounts, the declaration came at 6.15am with Labour taking two of the three seats from the Lib Dems, sensationally ousting deputy council leader Cathy Bowman, who had special responsibility for the Elephant & Castle regeneration. One of the incoming Labour councillors in East Walworth is Kirsty McNeill, who was Labour's challenger to Simon Hughes in North Southwark & Bermondsey in last year's general election.

One of the loudest cheers of the night was for former Chaucer ward councillor and executive member for environment Richard Thomas, who polled very strongly in East Dulwich having moved to the south of the borough with his family.

Turnout ranged from 26.6 per cent in Grange to 28.9 per cent in Chaucer.

The state of the parties

21 wards, 63 seats

    • Labour 28
    • Lib Dems 28
    • Conservatives 6
    • Greens 1

Disappointed: Nick Stanton

Nick Stanton

Lib Dem leader – and council leader for the past four years – Nick Stanton admitted that he was disappointed by the night's results, adding "except that, doing the best I can to work out what's happened everywhere else in London, it looks as though it's just a bad year to be running the council whoever you were. The Tories have lost Richmond but nearly gained Kingston, the Lib Dems have lost Lambeth..."

Asked what happens next, Cllr Stanton was emphatic in his answer: "Sleep! A whole weekend of sleep."

Labour reaction

Labour leader Cllr Peter John told the London SE1 website that he found the propsect of another four years of a Tory-backed Lib Dem administration "absolutely appalling".

He added: "If the Tories haven't learnt the lessons from tonight; people do not want the Liberal Democrats running Southwark Council. In the wards where they had Lib Dem councillors they have been rejected ... they should put the people of Southwark first, not the Liberal Democrats of Southwark first".

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