LOCAL ELECTIONS 2014: Labour in Merton are simply the best, says council leader Stephen Alambritis


The party now have control after four years minority rule.


By Emma Griffin and Luke Baker

Labour set the benchmark for the Conservatives ahead of 2015’s general election by securing a comfortable majority in highly-contested Merton last night. 

They won 36 seats to the Conservatives’ 20 at Canons Leisure Centre in Mitcham after four years of minority rule following the 2010 election.

The last of 20 wards, Wimbledon Park, was declared as a Conservative seat just before 7am but this was immaterial in the face of Labour’s dominance.

Re-elected Labour councillor for Ravensbury, Philip Jones, admitted that the party’s success was down to winning three wards in particular.

“We are extremely pleased – we’ve done better than our wildest expectations,” he said.

“We were always hoping to get a majority but we felt the arithmetic was actually stacked against us and that the swings we needed were just too big to gain – but we did it.

“We won two extra seats in Abbey which we thought was going to be more difficult for us but we got the really big swing in Lower Morden which we’ve only ever won once before.

“We’ve won Cannon Hill before but only when Labour’s in a much stronger position nationally so that was pleasing.”

The two parties involved in the coalition also fought a closely-run battle in West Barnes with one of the Liberal Democrats’ seats in the ward swinging in favour of the Conservatives.

Voter turnout in the borough was a healthy 41%, which, although lower than 2010’s impressive 66%, was to be expected without the added lure of a general election.

Labour council leader of four years, Stephen Alambritis, defiantly quoted a pop culture icon in his victory speech.

“The electorate of this borough deserve the best and they’ve chosen the best party to help them in difficult times,” said Cllr Alambritis.

“One of my favourite singers is Tina Turner and there’s one song of hers I rather like.

“Labour in Merton is simply the best, better than all the rest, better than anyone, better than anyone the people of Merton have ever met.”

On what was a disappointing night for the Tories, Wimbledon Park councillor Oonagh Moulton vowed to keep on fighting despite the setback.

“Though our group is smaller it will retain a strong presence as we are a united Conservative group,” she said.

“We will stand up for our residents and we can assure them that we will be holding this Labour administration to account for the next four years.” 

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