Conservatives lose control of Southampton City Council after just one year in power

Labour took control from the Conservatives. Credit: ITV Meridian

The Conservatives have lost control of Southampton City Council after just a year of being in power.

The party lost 4 councillors during the 2022 local elections, leaving them with 21, which isn't enough for a majority.

Labour saw its share increase from 22 to 26 seats, allowing the party to regain control of the council, which it ran for 9 years before losing it last year.

The Liberal Democrats gained one seat on the council.

Cllr Satvir Kaur, the new Leader of Southampton City Council, said the Labour party feels 'extremely honoured' to be trusted to run the city.

She added that the party is 'ready to go' and has some brilliant candidates.

"It's absolutely incredible, [we're] extremely honour that labour has been trusted to run Southampton City Council again.

"We're ready and fighting to go. We have won seats in wards that we have actually never won before in the city, which is incredible.

"We have some brilliant candidates and we are raring to go."

Cllr Satvir Kaur, Leader of Southampton City Council speaks to ITV Meridian

The win for Labour comes as as dozens of Tory councillors lost their seats across the country, against a backdrop of the row about lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and the cost-of-living crisis.

Mid-term elections are always difficult for a governing party, although as many of the English seats were last contested in 2018 during Theresa May’s chaotic administration, opportunities for opposition parties to make further gains may be limited.

A Tory source conceded “we expect these elections to be tough”.

Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis insisted Mr Johnson remained the right person to lead the party, amid speculation that a bad set of election results – coupled with any further revelations about No 10 lockdown-busting parties – could see more Tory MPs submitting letters of no confidence.

The Northern Ireland Secretary told Sky News: “I absolutely think we can win the next election, and I do think Boris Johnson is the right person to lead us into that.”

When asked by ITV Meridian if the country needs a new Prime Minister, Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen said he doesn't think so.

He said that people need to 'say to the government what upsets them'. It is 'historic', he said, that when people are upset they 'take it out on the first election they come to'.

"We've only been back in Southampton a year, after taking 7 seats off of Labour last year, and people can understand why.

"Now, it has swung back the other way.

"This is not unusual, just very disappointing."

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, says the result in Southampton is 'disappointing'.

In neighbouring Portsmouth, the Conservatives expressed their frustration at losing seats.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council Conservative group Simon Bosher told the BBC: “I have to say the results have been extremely disappointing, not totally unexpected I have to say. We have actually lost some very good working community councillors this evening.”

“Personally I think those in power in Westminster really do need to take a good, hard look in the mirror because it is the rank and file grassroots members they rely on that are actually losing their seats tonight and it is pretty disappointing across the board.”

Asked if he meant the Prime Minister when he referred to those in power, Mr Bosher added: “I think Boris does need to take a good, strong look in the mirror as well because I think he needs to look at those people that we have lost tonight… because those are people that are actually bearing the brunt on the doorstep of behaviour of what’s been going on in Westminster.”

Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGIU said:

"With around half of councils now declared, the most dramatic results so far have been in London with Labour taking control of Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster councils. This has huge symbolic value and losing all three of these councils in a single election will be a big blow to Conservative morale. "At the same time, it’s part of a longer term trend in which Labour has tightened its grip on inner London. Over the last decade, we have seen an increasing polarisation with the Labour vote concentrated in large cities and university towns and Conservative support spread across the rest of the country. In that respect, Conservative losses in Southampton or West Oxfordshire might be more telling indicators. "However, we shouldn’t forget that in those key battlegrounds, local issues are always crucial factors. "These are elections for the councils that run places, not just opinion polls on central government."