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Martin Penny Lib Dem no hoper!

The County Council election results are in. In Letchworth North West Labour's Lorna Kercher has managed to get elected for the county council on just 38.9% of the vote with a slim majority of 48 over her Tory opponent Andy Frankland, who despite raising the tory vote on 2009 by 2.5% still failed to get elected.

The big loser on the night though was former HELP councillor and Lib Dem Martin Penny whose vote crashed to just 124. Both Labour and the Tories helped themselves to his vote, though a lot of the former HELP candidates supporters this time backed the English Democrats who won 299 votes.

Meanwhile in Letchworth South Tory candidate Terry Hone (who also claims a salary as a district councillor) won the seat. Interestingly here UKIP's John Barry did extremely well nearly gaining second place, just pipped by Labour's district councillor David Kearns. The Lib Dems, in a seat that they were once in competition for slumped to 4 place just scrapping a place above the Greens.

In Letchworth Eat, Michael Muir was returned again, though Rachel Burgin fought a strong campaign for Labour.

For Terry Hone's safe seat there seemed to be a lot of Tory election activity. Labour didn't even put out a ward wide leaflet. Though clearly the Tories didn't do enough in the North West ward. Perhaps they have fallen out internally.

In each ward on average about 18 spoilt ballot papers and an average turnout of about 28-30%.

The main result is that the two of the county councillors representing Letchworth are also on the payroll for the District Council. Drinks all round, who said politics in Letchworth is a closed shop!

Letchworth Northwest

Bland,  Rosemary  
Green Party
Frankland,  Andy  
The Conservative Party Candidate
Kercher,  Lorna  
Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate
Penny,  Martin  Geoffrey
Liberal Democrat
Vickers,  Charles  Jeremy
English Democrats

Letchworth South

Barry,  John  Finbarr
UK Independence Party (UK I P)
Hone,  Terry  
The Conservative Party Candidate
Kearns,  David  Peter
Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate
Mario,  May  
Green Party
Winder,  John  Paul
Liberal Democrat

Letchworth East

Burgin,  Rachel  Danae
Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate
Muir,  Michael  
The Conservative Party Candidate
Tapping,  Arwen  Jane
Green Party
Winter,  Richard  William
Liberal Democrat

Letchworth's great council...

Philip Ross writes about the achievements of the town council 2005-9, its community values and the need now for the town to unite for the future.

 Letchworth did have a great town council, according to the National Association of Local Councils it was one of the best councils in the country that is why they made it a Quality Council in 2008. In 2009 we also won fair trade status for Letchworth. I believe we also had the best councillors and staff too. Our  adminstration acted prudently and sensibly, providing a range of support to old people, traders, families, disabled groups and upholding the rights of citizens in Letchworth and called for reform of the doubling planning mechanism in the town and suggested the creation of an independent appeals panel.

The precept charged was less than the average for parish councils (about £42 per household a year, the national average parish tax was £55) with it the council setup offices, employed staff and engaged in all those necessary start-up costs for any organisation. What has been forgotten is, prior to creating the town council, NHDC charged Letchworth an extra tax called "special Letchworth expenses".  NHDC lost its right to impose that stealth tax  that when the town council was set up - and there has been no promise that NHDC will not reinstate it".

People are quite rightly concerned about council tax. It is interesting that Micheal Heseltine's recent report has told the government district councils like NHDC are hindering growth- with business rates being utilisied to pay for them, putting pressure on businesses as well as households. He says that council taxes in areas that have county councils as well as districts pay higher council taxes than other areas and we need to remove them. In my opinion, one third of NHDC residents have clearly said they want to pay less taxes and the next logical step would be to remove NHDC as well and save residents around £125 a year. It will be interesting to see if the HELP group now direct their energies to removal of this unnecessary tier. If they don't I think we can all conclude that they had an ulterior motive.

The council wasn't popular with the old regime at LGCHF nor with NHDC whom it held to account on numerous occasions. Stuart Kenny's old regime resorted to regular legal action against individual councillors and delivered to me a high court writ in which they declared that the Foundation wasn't accountable to the people of the town. The ensuing High court battle debated democracy, freedom of speech and whether Letchworth still belonged to its people, or was now simply 'a property company like Grosvenor Estates in London'. The judge ruled in our favour and subsequent to that Mr Kenny and his old regime have left the Foundation.

The old town council represented a belief in garden city community values and now the new Foundation has to a large extent picked up that community mantle and is now pointed in the direction that Ebenezer Howard would approve of. It is those values of co-operation, self-help and empowerment that are important not the name of the organisation that helps deliver them. While I believe a town council would be good for the town in its absence I hope people will engage with the new Foundation and above all I hope that past differences among all can be forgotten and the town can unite go forward to a great future.