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SKDC Elections: Conservatives maintain control on South Kesteven District Council although it's a close call for leader Matthew Lee

Ruling Conservatives maintained their grip on South Kesteven District Council.

Though they lost five seats to Independents, they still have 40 of the 56 seats on the council.

However, council leader Matthew Lee almost lost out, with him also losing to Liberal Democrat Harrish Bisnauthsing, but keeping one of the two seats in the Stamford St Mary's Ward.

The Lib-Dems also saw success with Amanda Wheeler in Stamford St George becoming their second district councillor.

Earlier, the Conservatives feared losing ten or more seats, which is widely blamed on the unpopularity of the national government and its failure to deliver Brexit.

Coun leader Martin Hill and council leader Matthew Lee (9570006)
Coun leader Martin Hill and council leader Matthew Lee (9570006)

However, with them unexpectedly holding seats in Grantham, which can be read about here, it meant for a night that was better than many of them expected.

Labour, who now has three seats, in place of the two it held until the foll, following their former group leader Phil Dilks becoming an Independent seemed satisfied and reporting progress in closing gaps with the Tories in Grantham seats. The party took great joy in beating UKIP in Earlesfield, which can be read about here.

However, the night seemed to belong to the Independents, who gained five seats on the night.

In Grantham, the longserving Ian Selby was re-elected in Grantham Harrowby with a large majority.

Independents also topped polls in Bourne.

The high profile Independents Ashley Baxter and Phil Dilks also triumphed in the Deepings.

The count lasted until around 6.30am, meaning for a long night for all concerned.

After the endurance, council leader Matthew Lee said he was very pleased his group had retained 40 seats.

"It means we remain with a healthy majority. We have a lot of work to do in the next four years. The results have exceeded expectations especially given the national picture."

SKDC deputy leader Kelham Cooke, who ran the campaign, confirmed the results "went better than expected."

The recount (9578558)
The recount (9578558)

He continued: "I was predicting we would keep control but I predicted we would get down to 37. We have ended up with 40.

"It's been a challenging night for us and the other parties. Brexit has come into it."

There was the highest number of spoilt ballot papers I can ever recall- almost 50 in each ward, the majority saying 'deliver Brexit' and 'we are not voring until you deliver Brexit.'

The ruling Conservatives on neighbouring North Kesteven District council losing control also highlighted their relative success.

The deputy leader then paid tribute to some of those who lost their seats.

"It was disappointing to lose Mike King (Con-Toller) who has been a councillor for eight years. He put a lot of work into the Local Plan. It was sad to see him go. As well as Nick Neilson, the cabinet member for housing."

However, the Conservatives, he continued have new members with a good mix of skills.

In the next few weeks, the group will have their AGM and elect a leader and deputy, with both Matthew Lee and Kelham Cooke standing for re-selection as leader and deputy.

Then, at the first meeting of the new council on May 23, members will elect the leader and cabinet.

Coun Cooke added: "Obviously, in the past two years since Matthew and I took over, we announced a lot of plans and over the next four years, we will be focussed on deliver."

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