The independent wave continued to wash over The Village area in the Bromsgrove Council elections. The whole tract from Redditch, through Beoley, Portway, Alvechurch, Rowney Green, Barnt Green and Hopwood to the Birmingham border is now represented by independent councillors.
It very nearly reached through Cofton Hackett, too, where the long-standing Conservative councillor only just clung on as the independent got within 24 votes, and that was even after Green, Labour and LibDem candidates had soaked up some non-Tory votes.
The most noticeable statistic in the independent victories was the turnout at the polling booths. Whereas the figure was in the low to mid 30 per cents in “traditional areas” – and as low as 26 per cent in Catshill North – all of the independent seats were won with turnouts of more than 40 per cent.
Just for the record, the turnouts that saw independents elected in The Village area were: Alvechurch South 47 per cent; Alvechurch Village 44 per cent; and Barnt Green and Hopwood 46 per cent.
Clearly the voters were energised by the work they had seen the independents already doing in their areas and wanted to keep them, while in Alvechurch South they decided an independent was by far the better choice for them.
The scale of the victories was also telling, with the independent candidate in Alvechurch Village polling 840 votes, leaving the Conservative trailing a distant second with 104.
It was a similar story in Barnt Green & Hopwood, where the independent polled 898 votes and the other candidate, a Conservative, garnered only 196 votes. This is Barnt Green, remember, where not so long ago the thought of a non-Tory councillor was as likely as a £200,000 house.
In the end, though, the Tories just clung on to control of the district council – by a total of possibly only 14 votes – with their slim victory in Cofton and a stunning hold in Aston Fields by just one vote.
Clearly, there was some kind of protest at the handling of Brexit by Conservatives at a national level, but the principle of non-party politics in local government is now firmly established in this area and has laid very firm foundations for the future on both sides of Bromsgrove district.
With the remarkable LibDem victory in Lickey Hills over a long-standing Conservative councillor, Bromsgrove’s Tories now know they should heed what villagers want – particularly in properly defending our Green Belt – if they are to stand a chance of hanging on to control in four years’ time.