The now-former leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Dave Stewart, has lost his seat in the Chale, Niton and Shorwell ward meaning he is no longer part of the Isle of Wight Council.
Even if the Conservatives maintain control of County Hall it won’t be Stewart at the helm – a position he has held since 2017. He has been a councillor since 2010.
Green’s Claire Critchison has provisionally secured the seat, although the official declaration is yet to be made. The count is taking an extremely long time compared to normal due to the coronavirus restrictions. In addition, 25 postal votes were put in the wrong ward box.
This evening’s news gives a strong indication of how voters have changed their opinion since the last local elections, which saw Stewart gain more than double the number of votes that Green’s Critchison did.
Stewart has led the Council through the coronavirus pandemic and is the Island’s representative on the new Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire Authority, which only came into being last month. He has also taken the brunt of a lot of the finger pointing surrounding the Cowes Floating Bridge, even though that was ordered under the previous administration.
Speaking after he found out, Dave told the Island’s Local Democracy Reporter, Louise Hill:
“It is disappointing — having worked for the election to get a team together that can, and will hopefully still run the council and lead the team through the next four years.
“But it is not to be, the electorate has the final say and we should all remember that.
“I am disappointed, I will say well done to my opposite number and she can carry on doing the local job, which is good, and I can find other things to do with my time.
“I have done 31 years in the police and I have done something like 11/12 years in public service generally, so there is always an opportunity for change but I will be taking things steady.
“I feel grateful to the Island to give me the chance to lead the Isle of Wight council and I have been very proud to do that and grateful to the Conservative party to lead the conservative group and then we all move on.”
It’s all change at the top… but it remains to be seen if Conservatives will lose their dominant control of County Hall. If they do maintain the majority then it’s unclear, at this stage, who the next leader will be.
Claire Critchison is a 6th generation descendant, having lived in Chale and Niton all of her life and have brought her family up in the 2 villages. She is passionate about the South Wight of the Island and volunteers for a range of local clubs, projects, charities and community groups including being a Girlguiding Leader of the 1st Niton Rainbows and Brownies and Chair of the fundraising committee for Niton Primary School (FONS).
UPDATE @ 20:01 – It has been announced that Claire Critchinson (Green) secured a total of 876 votes, with Dave Stewart (Conservative) receiving 636.
The turnout was fairly high at 50.37%.
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