Lord Porter is Chairman of the Local Government Association.
I would like to congratulate all those Conservative councillors who have been elected or re-elected and offer my commiserations to those who were unsuccessful.
Overall, this was an encouraging set of local elections for Conservatives in local government as we gained just over 400 seats in England and Wales as well as making significant progress in Scotland.
Particular congratulations are due to our colleagues in Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Monmouthshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Warwickshire where we took control of those councils either from opposition or from a No Overall Control situation.
Elsewhere, in places like Northumberland, we made significant gains whilst falling just short of taking overall control – by just an inch of straw.
These results consolidate our position as the largest party in local government and the largest group at the Local Government Association.
Whilst local election results are often seen through the prism of national politics – and Theresa May’s national leadership was clearly a positive asset in these elections – I do, as a committed localist, believe that they also reflect the fantastic achievements of Conservative-led local government in delivering high quality public services to local people at the lowest possible cost.
The results were particularly interesting because in addition to the normal council elections there were also the first contests for directly elected mayors in six regions: Cambridge and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City, Tees Valley, the West of England, and the West Midlands.
Congratulations are due to Andy Street for winning in the West Midlands, to Cllr James Palmer for winning in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, to Cllr Ben Houchen for winning in Tees Valley, and to Cllr Tim Bowles for winning in the West of England.
Commiserations are due to my LGA colleague and dear friend, Cllr Sean Anstee, the Leader of Trafford Council, who fought a very strong battle against Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and to Tony Caledeira who secured a creditable second spot in the the Liverpool City Region.
The results in the Tees Valley and West Midlands are particularly encouraging since they prove that Conservatives can win in urban areas that have traditionally been viewed as Labour’s heartlands. To have won four of the six contests is an excellent achievement.
I have now been involved in elections for 20 years, the first being the 1997 General Election, where, if I am being honest, I have encountered a range of reactions from open hostility, to being neither loved nor hated, to these elections where the overwhelming response was generally an outpouring of genuine joy to see us on the doorstep.
Whilst I am happy that this is in some part a reaction to the great work we all do at the local level, it is an inescapable truth that it is due in large part to the strong leadership at national level being offered by Theresa May, which is amplified by the the failings of the opposition party leaders to resonate with the voting public.