One of Labour’s candidates in the Lewisham Grove Park ward missed out on being elected by just two votes after a marathon counting session that finished 6 days after the polls were closed.Hilary Moore failed to unseat Tory councillor David Britton in a nail-biting recount that was not completed until just hours before the Lib Dems finalised their national coalition deal with the Tories and Gordon Brown left Downing Street. Mr Britton was elected with 1,885 votes just ahead of Ms Moore on 1,883.
In a turnout of 59.1 per cent nine ballot papers were rejected because of ‘voting for more Candidates than voter was entitled to’ and 54 for ‘being unmarked or wholly void for uncertainty.’ The borough council’s election count started at 4 pm on Friday. When the process was adjourned at dawn on Saturday the full outcome at Grove Park was still unresolved. The recount decision was taken on Tuesday.
But despite this knife-edge defeat, Labour have bucked all the national political trends and swings by taking council seats from the Lib Dems, Greens, and Tories and winning overall political control. The Greens lost five of their six seats including two councillors in Brockley ward though their leader in Lewisham, Darren Johnson, just held on and is now the only Green representative on the council. Darren, a graduate of Goldsmiths, is chair of the London Assembly.
Labour’s capture of the Green council seats could be partly attributed to the high turnout in the local elections in Lewisham boosted by the fact the poll was held on General Election day. The disappointment experienced by the Greens locally is in contrast to the election of their first MP Caroline Lucas for Brighton. Ten London councils switched to Labour in last Thursday’s local elections.