IT was a very good day for Herefordshire's Conservatives as major gains were made after the county went to the polls for the local elections.

The party, which lost control of the county council in the 2019 election, saw its number of councillors boosted from 14 to 21, while the Independents took heavy losses.

And while there was all to play for in many wards, some came as a surprise even to the Conservatives, with one shock result seeing council chairman Sebastian Bowen ousted by the Conservative candidate.

True Independents candidate Mr Bowen, who had held his Bircher ward seat since 1994, and retained it with a huge 94 per cent majority in 2019, lost it by more than 200 votes to Dan Hurcomb, the Tories’ chairman in North Herefordshire.


Elsewhere in the county, transport and infrastructure chief John Harrington, who has been a key player in the most recent administration, lost his Hampton Ward seat to Local Conservatives candidate Bruce Allen Baker, who won by 125 votes.

North Herefordshire's Conservative MP, Sir Bill Wiggin, said he was delighted that the party had seen such gains in the election, which were really positive and welcome given the predictions.

"But I think if you look at the nature of the council as it was, they cancelled the bypass, they were disgraced by their children's services, and they spent a lot of money in the city, and I think they're paying for that incompetence at this election.

Speaking before the full result was announced yesterday (May 5), Sir Bill said he suspected and worried very much that coalitions would form.

And, with the Conservatives falling short of the 27 seats needed for an outright majority after all votes were counted, that is very likely indeed. 

"What I want to see is that Herefordshire benefits," he said.

"This is a really important election and I am optimistic that we will be in a better place after it.

"I would like to thank everybody who voted and particularly to congratulate candidates like Dan Hurcomb for a fantastic result, and to thank Sebastian Bowen for his public service, which people forget, but is also very important."

Nationally, however, the picture was not so good for the Conservatives, who lost 960 seats, with Labour gaining 635, the Lib Dems 416 and the Greens 200.

The national results mean the party lost control of 48 councils, with Labour gaining 22, the Lib Dems 12 and the Greens one, while there were an additional 16 hung councils.