All the votes have been counted and the final result is 36 Conservatives, 2 Independents in Chobham, 1 Lab in Old Dean and 1 Liberal Democrat in Bagshot. This is almost identical to the previous Council except that the Conservatives gained 2 seats taking one seat comfortably from the Lib Dems in Frimley Green and another by 20 votes from Lab in Old Dean. The Lib Dems took one seat in Bagshot from the Conservatives making it a net gain of 1.
However, this masks a number of surprising local results all round.
The first point to make here is that Surrey Heath is an extremely Conservative area with a high profile MP. Michael Gove won a majority of almost 25000 which makes Surrey Heath the 24th safest seat in the entire UK (out of 650) and the 16th safest Conservative seat. During a general election year particularly where there has been a large Conservative swing, it would have been no surprise if the Conservatives had won all 40 seats as per the 1970s and 80s.
However, this huge majority did not reflect in many areas to local voting.
Personally, I was astonished that the Lib Dems won a seat in Bagshot when you consider the national picture. They only put up one candidate albeit a local community campaigner and Parish Cllr when 3 seats were available. This seems to have been a total surprise to them as well as most of their team went home before the result was announced . This seat had been previously held by Lib Dems albeit narrowly in 2007 but even so, it was unexpected. There seems to have been an exceptionally large amount of personal or split voting with huge differences in the Conservative candidates vote for reasons I do not know.
Next, Independent candidates did well holding both seats in Chobham and only missing in West End by 54 votes. Other lone Independents polled well in Bisley and Mytchett. A lone Lib Dem also got very close in Heatherside almost taking the 3rd seat.
The Conservatives in turn were surprised to win one seat in Old Dean. Whilst personally disappointed, Old Dean has historically been a marginal and I was always expecting a tight result. The 2007 election was only won by 14 votes and two subsequent elections split the Con vote due to UKIP standing which didn’t happen this time. I doubt this was a personal vote effect as the successful Con is not a local activist nor live in the area. Turnout was much lower in Old Dean and initial checks suggest that Cons turned out but many Lab voters did not. There is a national trend which I will blog about in due course.
So Surrey Heath remains a local community where 90% of those elected are Conservative but only with about 60% of the vote. However, at least opposition voices will be there and it will be our job to ensure that the 40% are also heard loud and clear.