All change in Hertsmere

18 May 2023

The Conservatives no longer run Hertsmere Borough Council, after 24 years in charge.

At the local elections, the Conservatives lost 13 seats, and their majority, leaving no one party able to run the council alone.

People voted for change. And that change has now come. A fresh start, and a new vision.

In Bushey, Lib Dems won 9 of the 11 seats - giving us a clear mandate to play a role in the council leadership. But also a duty to honour our pledges, and get the best results for Bushey residents.

We can’t do that from the sidelines.

That’s why, after much thought, we’ve decided to take part in a Partnership Administration, in which we will take several key roles in directing council policy, and Labour councillors will take others.

This was confirmed and approved at last night’s council AGM.

The partnership rests on a crucial understanding: that we’ll deliver on the issues which matter most to Bushey.

Protecting our key greenbelt sites from development. Regenerating Bushey Country Club as a park and community hub. Creating new community facilities for North Bushey. Tackling fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, and parking problems.

Our councillors will now lead policy in the areas of finance, housing and the environment. In this way we’ll promote our values of making the borough a fairer and greener place to live - and ensure council tax payers get value for money.

We’ll also chair the planning committee, where we want planning decisions to made with honesty, integrity, and for the benefit of the wider community.

Of course, there will be challenges along the way. There will be difficult decisions to make. There are 24 years of Tory decline to reverse.

But we have no doubt this partnership is based on important shared values: local democracy, community spirit, greenbelt protection, and careful use of council money.

The alternative was for us to work with the Conservatives. But they were emphatically rejected by voters. And it was the Conservatives who drew up the Local Plan to destroy 3,000 acres of greenbelt. They cannot be trusted to defend our fields and farmland.

Another option was for us to refuse to work with anyone, leading to the chaos of no council leadership at all - and leaving us less able to stand up for the thousands of residents we represent.

Neither option was good for Bushey, nor fairly reflected the outcome of the election. The Tories lost seats to the Lib Dems in Bushey, and to Labour in Borehamwood and Potters Bar.

This left the Conservatives with 16 seats, Labour 14, and Lib Dems 9. With no one having the 20 needed for a majority, it means parties *must* work together so the council can function and things get done.

And ultimately, we will now have the influence to get the council to do what’s best for the residents we represent - and avoid what’s worst.