In a night full of exciting gains for challenger parties across London, Kensington & Chelsea Council remained one of the last Tory strongholds.
Majority Conservative since its founding in 1964, events in Westminster seem to not have had an impact on one of London’s wealthiest – and most unequal – boroughs.
The Conservatives held control of the council by a considerable margin, winning 35 out of 50 seats as only one seat changed hands: the Liberal Democrats gained one seat from the Conservatives in Earl’s Court.
Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “We have achieved a really strong mandate for the next four years.
“I’m so proud of a fantastic result in the face of so many challenges, most of which were not our own making.”
Interestingly, overall turnout stood at 32.7% – down by 7% since 2018.
With the ongoing Grenfell inquiry, constituents hit by the cost-of-living crisis, and local debates over bike lanes and the sale of the Notting Hill Police Station, it is a surprise that Kensington & Chelsea had one of the lowest turnouts across the capital.
Earl’s Court showdown
The biggest drama of the night took place in Earl’s Court.
Malcolm Spalding, Conservative councillor in the ward since 2014, unexpectedly passed away last month, leaving uncertainty as to who would take his place.
The last ward to declare, due to a painstaking recount, the Liberal Democrats held onto one seat and gained the unfilled seat.
Only six votes separated the elected Conservative councillor Hamish Adourian and his Lib Dem challenger Christoph Noblet.
Lib Dem and Green challenge
Earl’s Court was not the only ward where the result was closer than expected as Norland saw the Green party as the main challenger, making inroads into the Conservative majority.
With the highest turnout in the borough (41.6%), the impending sale of Notting Hill Police Station was a key issue for the ward.
Zack Polanski, Green Party London Assembly Member, said: “I think it reflects what’s going on across the country. The Green Party is doing exceptionally well.”
Another exciting result was the 20.1% swing to Liberal Democrats Marc Goldfinger in Courtfield.
Although beaten out by the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats were celebrating the narrowing of the gap.
Goldfinger said: “I’m exhausted, but I’ve had a wonderful time.
“The team was incredibly supportive. We have been pounding the pavement for the last few months, and the results show it.”
A hopeful evening for Labour
Emma Dent Coad, Kensington & Chelsea’s first Labour MP, serving from 2017-2019, was re-elected in St. Helens ward.
It may have been a modest night for the party in Kensington & Chelsea, but she is determined to continue her work flying the flag for the area’s pressing social issues.
She said: “We’re not a well funded party – we don’t have the amazing funds and gadgets and apps that the Conservatives will be working on – but what we do have is blind fury against injustice.”
Dent Coad is also very excited about the results in neighbouring boroughs Wandsworth and Westminster.
She said: “Westminster and Wandsworth have risen.
“Hopefully, with our reinvigorated Labour group, we’ll be continuing to build up our resources.”