The Southampton local elections were held on 3rd May this year.
This election saw several surprise results, as the leaders both the local Conservative and Labour leaders lost their seats. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats were unsuccessful in winning their key target seat of Portswood Ward.
With a third of Southampton City Council’s total number of seats up for election, 7 Conservative, 8 Labour and 1 Independent (Putting People First) councillor were elected.
As soon as polls closed, local officials in each polling station transferred the black boxes containing all submitted ballot papers to the count at Southampton’s Guildhall. Once there, the black boxes were signed over and their seals cut, with a table devoted to each ward’s count.
All ballot papers are first counted to verify the correct number of votes in each box, before voters’ candidate preferences are counted. During the counting process, if candidates and their guests see anything that breaks the count rules they can report it to the election Returning Officer for review.
Typically, during the count, most candidates in a ward have friendly chats with each other discussing the high and low points of their campaign.
Once every vote has been counted and verified, all candidates are informed of the result. At this point any candidate can ask for a recount of votes. Finally, the winner is declared by the election Returning Officer.
This year, the council was unchanged in the overall numbers of each party represented, leaving it as Labour-majority run.
The councillors elected to represent each ward, and how the University of Southampton students running as candidates fared was as follows:
Bargate Ward: Sarah Jane Bogle, Labour Party
Bassett Ward: Beryl May Harris, Conservative Party
Bevois Ward: Toqeer Ahmed Kataria, Labour Party
Bitterne Ward: Terry Michael Streets, Conservative Party – Conservative gain from Labour
University of Southampton student candidate Olivia Reed, Liberal Democrats, came in third place.
Bitterne Park Ward: Robert Craig Harwood, Conservative Party
Coxford Ward: Keith Morrell, Independent (Putting People First)
University of Southampton student candidate Amy Greenwood, Liberal Democrats, came in fourth place.
Freemantle Ward: Stephen John Leggett, Labour Party – Labour gain from Conservative
Harefield Ward: Valerie Laurent, Conservative Party
Millbrook Ward: Stephen Graham Patrick Galton, Conservative Party – Conservative gain from Labour
Peartree Ward: Thomas James Bell, Conservative Party – Conservative gain from Labour
Portswood Ward: Lisa Mitchell, Labour Party – Labour gain from Conservative
Redbridge Ward: Catherine Lipton Mcewing, Labour Party
University of Southampton student candidate Matthew Cowley, Conservative Party, came in third place.
Shirley Ward: Hannah Coombs, Labour Party
Sholing Ward: Marley George Guthrie, Conservative Party
Swathing Ward: Lorna Fielker, Labour Party – Labour gain from Conservative
Woolston Ward: Christopher Hammond, Labour Party
University of Southampton student candidate Samuel Harris, Liberal Democrats, came in fourth place.
For a full breakdown of the results in Southampton, please click here.
Matthew Cowley, Conservative candidate for Redbridge Ward and a third year Politics and Economics student commented:
I’m very happy with my result in Redbridge having increased our vote share by 5% from 2016 and really enjoyed going out and speaking to voters about how they wanted Southampton to be run. The process was a challenge, but an exciting one, and I’d recommend running in local elections to anyone interested in getting involved with politics!
Samuel Harris, Liberal Democrat candidate for Woolston Ward and first year Electrical Engineering student commented:
Having been selected as the candidate in Woolston was incredible. The Liberal Democrats were not expected to win in Woolston, so to not come last was all I could hope for. As a party, we are not as rich as Labour or the Tories, so we were very limited in what campaigning we could do in Woolston… I would encourage as many students as possible to stand as candidates so we can get our needs listened to by the council.
Olivia Reed, Liberal Democrat candidate for Bitterne Ward and second year Politics student said:
I was really pleased with my result in Bitterne coming 3rd in a tightly fought race. The ward experienced a dramatic night as Labour’s council leader, Simon Letts, lost his seat to the Conservatives. The strong fight in the ward between Labour and the Conservatives meant that we experienced a slight squeeze but I was pleased we still managed to end up with a strong result.
I really enjoyed the whole process… Local politics has a real passion and drive to it. I received some lovely messages on voting day from people who had gone out to vote for me which was a real privilege.
The Labour Party didn’t have any University of Southampton students running as candidates, but a committee spokesperson for the University of Southampton Labour Society commented on the society’s role in the election and their reaction to the results from Southampton:
The local election campaign for the society mainly focused on the wards of Bassett, Swaythling and Portswood with us winning both the latter two… The reactions we found to both Lorna and Lisa, our Swaythling and Portswood candidates, was very positive. Students particularly liked that we had dedicated a whole leaflet to both the environment and to housing…
Overall, our part of the campaign went well – our candidate Toqeer in Bevois, another student ward with a high student population, had an excellent result with a 6% swing to the party achieving 73% of the vote. In Bassett, Swaythling and Portswood we had very high student turnout for a local election which gave us an increase in our vote in Bassett and allowed us to gain both Swaythling and Portswood.
We were very disappointed overall as we wanted to increase our council majority, but we lost three seats including the council leader in very leave-dominated areas. This undermined the great results we had in our part of the city. Nevertheless, we endeavour as a society to continue making progress… so we have three councillors in Portswood and Swaythling in 2019.