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Conservatives retain Barnet Borough Council control after a close fight
It was a close fight, but Conservatives retained power in Barnet, with Labour wrestling nine seats from the Tories.
After an anxious wait at Allianz Park, the Labour group missed out on taking control of the council by just two seats.
Assuming Labour retains its three seats in Colindale, the party will have a total of 30 councillors – topping its current record of 26.
Colindale’s election was postponed owing to the death of Green Party candidate Jessica Yorke earlier this week, and will take place in June.
Labour and Tories went neck and neck after 18 ward results were announced, but the Conservatives went on to hold all three seats in High Barnet and took two seats from the Liberal Democrats in Childs Hill, giving them an unbeatable total of 32 councillors.
Conservative council leader Richard Cornelius said: “It’s a brave new world for Barnet in so many ways. I’m very pleased.
“It was looking quite close for a bit. It took us a long way to get there, but eventually we did.
“We’re back in action, we look forward to delivering all those services."
Labour leader Councillor Alison Moore said she was “disappointed” with the result.
But it was not all doom and gloom for Labour, who gained nine seats including three in East Barnet, two in Underhilll, one in West Hendon, one in Hale, one in Brunswick Park and one in Coppetts.
Cllr Moore said: “We fought a hard campaign, and we have elected some brilliant new councillors who will contribute to Barnet. There was a chance we could have won, and we are disappointed but it’s certainly not a ringing endorsement for the Conservatives.
“Tonight’s result is testament to our manifesto and out pitch to people about restoring the fairness and democracy in Barnet after an administration that have not engaged with local people and dismissed their views.
“We will continue to fight and be on the side of local residents and making sure their voices are heard. We will also fight to ensure that One Barnet is not selling residents short.”
Councillors Alon Or-Bach (Lab), Alison Moore (Lab) and Arjun Mittra (Lab) celebrate after being elected in East Finchley ward
The youngest person to be elected to the council is 19-year-old Rebecca Challice, one of three new Labour councillors in East Barnet.
Although typically a Tory ward, it shifted drastically with Cllr Challice and her new colleagues, Lawrie Williams and Philip Cohen, wresting it from Tory hands.
It also meant Cllr Robert Rams was ousted from his seat, having previously been cabinet member for customer access.
Cllr Challice said: "I didn’t want to assume – but now I’m so happy to have been given this chance.
"I can’t wait to see what I can do for the people of East Barnet."
The second youngest person on the council is fellow Labour councillor Amy Trevethan, 23. She is next year’s Labour parliamentary candidate for High Barnet.
Cllr Trevethan said: "Together with Rebecca Challice, I hope to be a strong voice for all the young people in Barnet who have been so badly let down by the Tories."
After the Mill Hill vote was announced, Conservative Cllr Sury Khatri said: "I feel elated. I thought the Liberal Democrats might get it, I thought my time on the council was numbered.
"I can’t wait to continue serving the residents of Barnet, it shows they’ve got faith in me. I always try to do better than I have done, and improve on myself."
The Liberal Democrats lost two out of three seats on the council, with stalwart Jack Cohen retaining his seat in Childs Hill.
He said: "He said: "I’m stunned. The way it was going, I didn’t expect this at all. It’s unbelievable really. It just shows if you’ve got a good reputation you can beat the trend.
"I believe in working for the people, and I’ll continue to do that.
"I don’t know how it will work yet because as the only Liberal Democrat I’ll be on my own."
The Green Party and UK Independence Party did not win any seats.
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