VOTERS have ‘sent a clear message’ after the Conservatives lost their leader and their overall majority at Rugby Borough Council (RBC) in the local elections – so says the town’s Labour Group.
Labour took two seats from the Tories – one from former council leader Seb Lowe in Coton and Boughton Ward, and one in the Admirals and Cawston Ward.
The Conservatives remain the largest party with 21 councillors, with Labour on 12 and the Liberal Democrats on nine.
Leader of the Labour Group on RBC, Coun Maggie O’Rourke of Benn Ward, said: “I want to thank people across Rugby Borough who have put their trust in us to deliver the change that they clearly want after so many years of the Conservatives running the council. Voters have sent a clear message to the Conservatives: the people of Rugby know that they deserve better.
“They want Councillors with the vision, skills, and commitment to the community that will be necessary to rebuild after the complacency and laziness of the Tory years.
“I’m delighted for our newly elected Councillors. Their diverse backgrounds reflect our dynamic and growing borough and their wide range of professional skills mean that our group on the council will be even better equipped to take on the challenges of rebuilding after the damage done by the Conservatives locally and nationally through cuts and underinvestment.
“We’ve campaigned positively on how we would renew Rugby together with the community if we formed an administration. There will inevitably be a period of uncertainty given that the council is now in ‘no overall control’. I want to assure residents that Rugby Labour’s group of Councillors will continue the positive, business-like approach we’ve taken that combines our commitment to transparency, partnership with stakeholders, and efficiency with our deep understanding of the community’s needs and commitment to a fairer society.”
Coun Senthil Periasamy, Labour’s newly elected Councillor for Coton and Boughton, said: “I’m overwhelmed by the support I received from the people of Coton and Boughton. We have a lot of work to do now, to improve the standard of living for residents, and I’m ready to get going, starting now.”
Coun Louise Robinson, the party’s newly elected Councillor for Admirals and Cawston, said: “As a Rugby resident of 27 years I’m really happy that the town has backed Labour today. It’s good to see this replicated around the country.
“So many young people I know are disillusioned with politics, so I’m looking forward to doing what I can to get them more engaged in politics. I’m also hoping to take forward our agenda of protecting the environment and the green belt.”
Coun O’Rourke becomes Mayor of Rugby Borough on May 18, at which point she steps down as leader of the Labour Group of Councillors on RBC. The Group will elect a new leader before this date.
Coun Adrian Warwick, the Chairman of Rugby Conservative Association, said: “We were obviously disappointed by the results of the local elections, despite us remaining the largest party at the Council. I want to thank everyone who supported us throughout Rugby and voted Conservative, and our councillors and candidates who again worked incredibly hard in difficult circumstances.
“Now is not the time for us to look back and dwell on the past, and we will instead look firmly to the future and work together to deliver on the priorities of local people and families. I know that all of our Conservative councillors on Rugby Borough Council who work tirelessly will be doing exactly this, and working even harder day in, day out to ensure that Rugby becomes an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Liberal Democrat Group leader Coun Jerry Roodhouse said: “This election now sees Rugby Borough Council in no overall control. The Lib Dems were glad to hold our own and move forward in Bilton.
“I hope that all political groups can find a way to agree on those joint priorities that residents want to see, such as a country park for Cawston protecting the woods, seeking to bring more local healthcare services back to Rugby, controlled development along with good quality infrastructure, and tackling the climate change agenda as well.
“I look forward to working with all groups and moving away from political sniping.”