The Liberal Democrats have been left the largest party in the council elections for the City of York, following a roller-coaster day for local politics that left the Labour and Conservatives floundering. The Lib Dems have pushed out a Labour plurality on the Council that has been in place since 2015, making their greatest gains in the suburbs surrounding the city.
Hull Road ward was the last to declare, with the result arriving at just before eight on Friday evening. The ward encompasses both university campuses and most of the student rentals to the north. It chose to elect three Labour councillors: Aisling Musson, George Norman, and Michael Pavlovic.
The result comes after a disastrous night for Britain’s two largest parties, who have been severely punished at the voting booth after dissatisfaction with the Brexit result: York voted 58% remain in the Brexit referendum, and its residents aren’t happy with the current handling of the process.
Although Labour councillors were able to buck the trend in the university’s ward, the overall result echoes the national trend as smaller parties benefited hugely from increased mobilisation and national dissatisfaction with the government and its opposition. Nationally, it was a particularly good night for the Liberal Democrats, who are now up 700 seats from the previous local election.
York has traditionally been a three-way marginal with Labour, Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats all spending time in power over past 20 years. The council has been run since 2015 by a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, despite Labour being the largest party. That changed today with 21 Liberal Democrat Councillors achieving election. The Tories suffered in particular, losing eight of their ten seats. Councillors losses even included Deputy Tory Leader of the in the city, Stuart Rawlings.
Of the three councillors elected to Hull Road, two have studied at York. Councillor George Norman attended The Lemon Press’ election hustings two weeks ago and began studying History at York in 2013. His main priority for the ward is to tackle the spiralling cost of living as well as to improve council services like roads and bin collection. Fellow Hull Road councillor Aisling Musson completed her York degree in 2018, and has since participated in many campaigns in York centred around the provision of care to residents.
In a ward election where a record number of students ran for office, Michael Pavlovic is the only Councillor elected without experience at the University. He is also the sole incumbent re-elected in the ward: he previously chaired the Economy and Place Scrutiny Committee and is Treasurer for the Labour Councillors Group, and focuses his attention on housing policy.
Final Seat Total
Liberal Democrats: 21