VOTE 2019: Shock as Wokingham Conservatives leader loses seat to Lib Dems

In all, Conservatives lose 10 seats - Lib Dems gain 8, Labour 1, Independent 1

  • Conservatives leader Julian McGhee-Sumner loses seat to Liberal Democrats

  • Executive member for regeneration Philip Mirfin loses to Lib Dems

  • Norman Jorgensen, executive member for housing, loses to Lib Dems

  • Independent Jim Frewin snatches Shinfield South from Anthony Pollock, executive member for finance

  • Chair of planning committee Tim Holton loses out to Lib Dems

  • Labour comes within 20 votes of taking Shinfield North from winner Parry Batth

THE leader of Wokingham’s Conservatives lost his seat at the local elections – he had only been in the role since December last year.

Julian McGhee-Sumner was one of five big names among the party to suffer defeat at the hands of the opposition parties.

Also voted out were Norman Jorgensen, the husband of deputy leader Pauline; Philip Mirfin who was the executive member for regeneration; Antony Pollock who had served as the executive member for finance and Tim Holton who had served as chair of the planning committee.

In all, the Conservatives lost 10 seats, with the Lib Dems winning eight, Labour one and independent candidate Jim Frewin scooping Shinfield South.

The night sees the Liberal Democrats group on Wokingham Borough Council double in size, while the Conservatives grouping has shrunk to 31 – giving them a majority of just eight.

Last month, in an interview with The Wokingham Paper, Julian McGhee-Sumner said that he never took being elected for granted.

“I’m always humbled when I get elected,” he said. “I genuinely never take for granted that someone has put their trust in me by voting for me.”

It puts in doubt his pledge to the council that after the election there would be a consultation of the residents over housing numbers in the borough – something that has been a key election issue.

The count took place at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre in Lower Earley. As it finished, both Labour and Conservatives left the hall and were unable to be interviewed.  The Wokingham Paper will endeavour to speak with them as soon as possible.

Cllr Lindsay Ferris, the leader of the Wokingham Liberal Democrats, said: “I’ve got to say a big thank you to the residents of Wokingham, and also to all our team. They worked really hard throughout the campaign.

“We tried to put forward as positive a message as we could and I’m very pleased that the residents have taken that on.

“The stand out result was undoubtably Dr Maria Gee winning in Wescott.

“I’d like to wish Julian well. Over the past few months we’ve had a number of meetings and we’ve managed to discuss and agree on a number of issues.”

He added: “The mood in the party is very, very buoyant. We’ve worked as a team and worked our socks off. We’ve knocked on so many doors this year and we tried to put a consistent and constructive proposal together [to the electorate]. I want to say thank you to the team.”

The local elections are not over yet: the town and parish councillors will be counted from noon on Friday, May 4.

Story updated 12.47pm, Friday May 3 – Consveratives majority originally listed as four, it is eight. Apologies. 

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Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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  1. Great press coverage. Thanks The Wokingham Paper for the excellent comprehensive coverage. Sadly at election time you lose the odd “good guys” but the Conservatives who have ruled Wokingham for 20 years. forgot the basics. It’s their job to represent us the residents not just stick to their ideological stance as Conservatives which is power first and Residents a long way down the line. Roll on next May when Wokingham’s Residents can finish off the job.

    1. I reckon that the arrogant Conservative councilors will blame their lack of success on Brexit.
      We the voters realise though that their lack of success was down to them not listening to what the voters wanted and forcing us to have what they thought best for us.
      Nect year WILL see the demise of a Conservative led council in Wokingham!

  2. Well what a surprise to see some of those who bullied and forced through the destruction of Elms field get their comeuppance, just a shame that it’s come to late to save the park. Much too late, lets hope whoever the new leader is takes heed and listens to people.

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