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Elmbridge: In Review


Under the control of a Liberal Democrat and Resident’s Association coalition since 2016, Elmbridge Borough Council will see 16 out of its 48 total seats up for grabs this coming 5 May, down from the 60 total seats that comprised the authority prior to 2016. Liberal Democrats and Resident’s Association Councillors in Elmbridge will seek to maintain their coalition’s somewhat tenuous grasp on control of the Council while Conservatives will try to regain the majority that they held for nearly a decade before the 2016 elections. As things stand going into the election, 14 seats are held by Resident’s Associations, Liberal Democrats hold 9 seats and Conservatives hold 17 while the remaining 8 are held by various smaller groups.

Cllr Chris Sadler, Leader of the Council since 2016, has presided over a district that has supported a mentality of growth and sustainability. As per the Lib Dem Manifesto from 2019, his coalition administration has sought to make Elmbridge ‘safer, greener and smarter.’ In practice this has amounted to Elmbridge Borough Council championing an increase in housing supply using brownfield sites alone, with the Council standing by its promise to protect the green belt at all costs. One would be hard pressed to say that this coalition administration has not taken the delivery of much needed UK housing supply upon itself, as its recently submitted draft local plan contains provisions for 465 homes per year, for a total of 7,000 over the next 15 years – all without the release of green belt land for development.

The 2021 Council elections in May saw no seat changes across the board, with the only gain coming from a Lib Dem Cobham & Downside by-election win coming at the expense of the incumbent Conservative in July of the same year. Cobham & Downside, together with Molesey East and Weybridge St George’s Hill, comprise the likely battleground wards for 2022. These three hotly contested seats saw an average victory margin of just 4.5% in 2021.

Elmbridge Borough Council’s Planning Committee will see 6 members stand for re-election, including both its Chair, Cllr Barry Cheyne, and its Vice-Chair, Cllr Caroline James. While Cllr Cheyne looks due for a tough re-election competition given his ward’s strong Conservative leaning, Cllr James will benefit from her ward’s large Resident’s Association majority and should have little trouble securing re-election. 2 members, Cllrs Ruth Mitchell and Barry Fairbank, will be retiring.

While Elmbridge Borough Council is not likely to see significant upheaval nor many seat changes, it is still an election to keep an eye on. Will the Lib Dem and Resident’s Association coalition hold? Will Conservatives regain their 2015 majority? Tune in 6 May to find out!

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Elmbridge: In Review