Election 2014 LIVE


By - Thursday 22nd May, 2014

Labour 40 Conservatives 30

Welcome to the Croydon Citizen’s live coverage of Croydon’s 2014 council elections. 70 councillors will be elected tonight, across 24 wards in the borough. Mike Fisher’s Conservatives are looking for four more years in power, while Tony Newman and Labour want to take back Katharine Street. Tom Black has the latest, and will be faithfully updating you on electoral matters in Croydon and around the country, from 10pm until the final results come through early tomorrow morning.

Keep your eyes on this page for the most up-to-date news on the election results – if updates don’t appear immediately, refresh the page. It should update automatically throughout the night. Tom is also tweeting from the Citizen’s Twitter account with instant updates.

10.11

Results

CON HOLD COULSDON WEST

CON HOLD COULSDON EAST

Two, final, unremarkable safe wards (notable only because Mario Creatura, aide to Gavin Barwell and popular punching bag for the local left, has now become a councillor in Coulsdon West – beating my Dad).

…and that’s it. Croydon’s election is over. Labour have pulled off a surprise victory, and a very convincing one at that. The pressure will be on them to deliver their ambitious manifesto.

But that’s another story.

Goodnight/good morning, and thank you all for reading and keeping me sane for the last twelve hours.

LAB GAIN CROYDON

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09.50

Result

LAB HOLD BROAD GREEN

Labour’s last unheld safe seat. This brings them up to their presumably final total of 40 councillors.

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09.48

Result

LAB HOLD SELHURST

Another unremarkable safe seat victory, but it’s worth noting that Labour now have officially more than 35 councillors, and as such can be formally said to control the council.

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09.33

Result

LAB HOLD NORBURY

Labour safe seat. They’ve held it. You know the drill by now.

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09.28

Result

CON HOLD SANDERSTEAD

Another safe Conservative seat. Very low ‘minor party’ votes for this one.

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09.25

Result

LAB GAIN ASHBURTON

You read that correctly – Labour have taken Ashburton, and won all three of its councillors. Even if they had not won Waddon, they would now be a majority council. With two wards in hand, they will be one of the stronger councils of recent years.

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09.11

Result

LAB HOLD UPPER NORWOOD

‘Chairman Pat’ of the Socialist Republic of Upper Norwood holds his ward, along with his Labour colleagues. Again, no surprises here.

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08.53

Result

CON HOLD HEATHFIELD

Yet another safe seat. Conservatives win with a >1500 majority.

 

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08.45

Result

LAB HOLD THORNTON HEATH

Another very safe ward for Labour. This victory was made arguably more likely by the Conservatives’ odd choice of a candidate with links to the controversy over the investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s murder. UKIP not really a factor in this ward.

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08.41

Results

CON HOLD SELSDON & BALLARDS

LAB GAIN WADDON

‘Lab gain Waddon’ are three words that Labourites have dreamt of hearing since 2010. This morning, they will be satisfied. In winning Waddon, Labour have confirmed they will control the council – whether or not they win Ashburton (which they will – for at least 2/3 of its councillors).

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08.16

Result

CON HOLD CROHAM

One of the most contested wards in the borough, with everyone from the far-right to the Communist left standing, has seen a relatively vanilla return of three Conservative councillors.

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08.08

Result

CON HOLD SHIRLEY

Mike Fisher’s own ward has been unsurprisingly held by the Conservatives. In his own speech, Fisher came close to a formal concession but stopped short of agreeing that Labour had ‘won’ the elections. “I think it is more a case of the UKIP vote denying the Conservatives the control of the council.”

Fisher came third in the ward, behind his fellow Conservative candidates.

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07.55

To break up the relentless stream of safe seats now rolling in, here’s the latest on this election’s battlegrounds: Ashburton and Waddon.

Ashburton is still looking like 2 Labour, 1 Conservative. The reasons why the voters split their ballots are confusing and unclear, though a healthy UKIP result is undoubtedly a product of the same thinking.

Labour is confident it will win all three of Waddon’s councillors. A margin of about 120 for each candidate has been predicted, based on the incredibly slow-paced count currently underway. The Waddon campaign, run by the somewhat independent Croydon South Constituency Labour Party, was run differently to the operation in the centre and north of the borough. In the event, both approaches seem to have borne fruit.

Oh, and Tony Newman has officially claimed victory.

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07.45

Result

CON HOLD PURLEY

The blue safe seats are coming in thick and fast now. No surprises here, as Purley contains CR8, the postcode with the highest density of millionaires in the UK.

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07.43

Result

CON HOLD FAIRFIELD

Labour put up a fight for this ward, selecting a strong team, but it was always a long shot. While similarly-long Ashburton looks likely to go at least partially to Labour, the red team will have to be happy with this being a ‘growth ward’, where an improved performance this year may stand them in better stead in 2018.

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07.35

Result

LAB HOLD WOODSIDE

Another Labour safe ward, another three councillors for the party now widely assumed to be the incoming council. Croydon Labour leader Newman is believed to have circulated his victory speech to the local press.

Waddon remains close, but the Conservatives seem to be accepting that there just aren’t enough ‘mixed ballot’ piles left to carry them over the line. Labour are expected to get all three of their candidates elected, while in Ashburton we may see a 2 Labour – 1 Conservative split.

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07.27

Of that slate of new results in Croydon, Addiscombe is the one that makes the worst reading for the Conservatives. They put a lot of resources – including the effective campaigner Gavin Barwell – into that ward and pushed hard to win it. It was their secret weapon – and it has completely failed to go off. They sought to deny Labour three councillors in Addiscombe. All three were returned by the electorate last night.

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07.19

Results

CON HOLD KENLEY

LAB HOLD BENSHAM MANOR

LAB HOLD SOUTH NORWOOD

LAB HOLD ADDISCOMBE

Nothing hugely out of the ordinary there, though UKIP came in second in Kenley and were not unimpressive elsewhere.

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06.07

RESULT: LAB HOLD FIELDWAY (2)

Carole Bonner and Simon Hall re-elected.

A predictable result in a safe Labour ward. It comes at a time when Labour’s team in Waddon is confident that the party has taken all three seats in the crucial marginal, and therefore, the council. This isn’t confirmed, but would mean there was little to no way back for the Conservatives.

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05.49

So why the hold-up?

Mixed ballots.

Mixed ballots are what happen when you have three votes (as people do in Croydon, because they have three councillors to elect) and you use them on different parties. So if you vote UKIP, Conservative, Conservative.

The reason they are delaying things today is because they cannot be immediately sorted into one pile or another – they go into one big pile of ‘mixed ballots’ and get dealt with one at a time, with votes manually added to the tally.

The other reason things are so slow today because of all this is that no-one expected this many. UKIP only standing one candidate in many wards means people who want to vote UKIP are doing so once, then putting two other parties on their ballot. With UKIP’s support so high nationally today, there are a great many more mixed ballots to deal with.

The next result we’ll be getting is Upper Norwood. There won’t be much nailbiting suspense – it’s solidly and safely Labour, and short of the UKIP earthquake turning into a tsunami, it’ll stay that way.

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05.41

“The sooner this is over, the better,” grumbled Mike Fisher a few minutes ago, unaware that I was coming down the corridor towards him.

It does look like Labour are going to convincingly win these council elections. Not only is Waddon slowly building up a Labour lead, but Ashburton, The Little Ward That Could, is now being viewed by some Labour sources as ‘ours’.

Neither ward is close to being called, but the Conservatives’ ace in the hole – trying to win back the Labour ward of Addiscombe – has failed. “We thought two hours ago that it might be touch-and-go,” said one Labour councillor, “but now it’s looking fine. We’ll be a couple of hundred up.”

Gavin Barwell was the mastermind behind the Addiscombe scheme – its collapse is probably responsible for his dejected appearance overnight. Adam Kellett, sitting Conservative councillor for Ashburton, is also simply staying away from his own count. It seems Mike Fisher’s sentiment is shared this morning.

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04.48

Important to note that Boris Johnson came down and campaigned in New Addington yesterday. I said at the time I thought this was a misuse of resources, as Labour were miles ahead on postal votes by this point. With this view vindicated, it could be devastating for the Conservatives if other mistakes like it have been made across the borough.

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04.34

RESULT: LAB GAIN (1) NEW ADDINGTON

Christensen, Clive (UKIP): 714

Clugston Jim, (Green Party): 107

Cousins Martin (Green Party): 123

Fish, Lara (Conservative Party): 617

Johnson, Christopher (UKIP): 639

Le May, Clifford (BNP): 168

Lewis, Oliver (Labour Party): 1,244

Pearson, Anthony (Conservative Party): 650

Treanor, Donna (BNP): 80

Woodley, Louisa (Labour Party): 1,094

Notes

The result was, as rumoured, Labour in first, UKIP second, the Tories third. It’s also interesting to note that Lewis and Woodley were both campaigned against by the Tories for ‘not being from New Addington’. This does not appear to have worked.

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04.18

State of the Count

Firstly, the count is delayed and incredibly slow-paced. A lot of fingers are being pointed over this, but that’s not going to speed things up.

Secondly, New Addington has been finished (but undeclared) for so long that the result has leaked through so many sources that it’s now 90% certain to be Labour in first place, UKIP in second and Tories in third. That’s a ward where the Tories currently have one councillor, and they have apparently just come third.

Thirdly, Ashburton has gone from ‘safe Tory’ (last year) to ‘future potential Labour target’ (the start of this year) to ‘actually winnable Labour target’ (tonight). A tenacious, community-focused campaign by Ashburton Labour appears to be paying off in a big way.

Fourthly, and unsurprisingly considering the above, the Tories are looking very glum while Labour are a bit more cheery. Panic is still setting in over Addiscombe, however, where Labour fear a split ward could undermine their potential gains in Waddon.

Finally, those ‘potential gains in Waddon’. Labour think they might be looking at a split ward (see earlier entry) but neither they or the Tories are pulling very far into the lead. Count-room sources suggest this one will come down to the wire – but stress that the Conservatives are ahead on postal votes.

In summary:

UKIP are surging across the borough but not yet making tangible gains. Croydon’s duopoly is holding up tonight.

Labour are, currently, the ‘favourites’ to win. This could all change for want of a few hundred votes in some key wards.

Those key wards are Waddon, Ashburton and Addiscombe. 

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03.45

Just spoke to a Tory candidate who said ‘it’s looking very red. We’re going to see a Labour council, and UKIP are going to be on the council.’

Meanwhile, the Waddon count is finally underway, and ‘very close’ is the phrase of the moment. It really is very close. Labour sources murmur things about Labour maybe having won two of the three council seats – whether that leaves Pelling, Prince or Canning out in the cold remains to be seen.

The New Addington declaration is apparently ‘imminent’. I’ll update Twitter immediately, details will follow here within minutes. The map at the top of the page will also update, Because Magic.

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03.08

Labour reportedly feeling ‘cautious optimism’ over Waddon. This is a change from the feeling of ‘we haven’t quite managed it’ that was abundant as the night began.

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02.55

There’s been a delay on the New Addington result. The count does appear to be completely over, but the declaration isn’t happening. As soon as this changes, you’ll know.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are looking more downbeat than Labour tonight. Candidates can be seen slumped against walls, heads in hands and looking glum. Labour are not exactly linedancing either, but there’s a jovial confidence radiating from their people around the Ashburton count.

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01.58

Results to begin shortly

First declaration at about 2:20. Very likely to be New Addington – they have stopped counting it. It seems Labour will win both councillors there. It’s a step in the right direction for the opposition, but will it be enough? There are still worries about Waddon, and a renewed concern over Addiscombe. Ashburton remains the wildcard, and a lot of big players in both parties are crowding that count’s tables.

I’ll be tweeting the outcome of the upcoming declaration first, and updating here as soon as I can.

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01.31

There’s a real sense of worry in the Labour camp that UKIP have, after years of threatening to do so, ‘stolen’ the anti-government vote. We’ll see when the totals start to come in, but it would make sense – and be disastrous for Labour’s hopes.

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01.26

Time for another analytical update from our esteemed amateur psephologist, Dr Thomas Anderson:

Like the other 31 boroughs of Greater London, and some other cities across the UK such as York and Brighton, Croydon uses an electoral system known as bloc vote. This is a variant of “first-past-the-post” (FPTP), the horse racing-derived phrase used to describea system where, simply, the candidate with the most votes wins the seat. Under bloc vote there are several seats available in one ward, usually 3, and each voter gets 3 votes which they may cast for any 3 different candidates—or only use 1 or 2 of their votes if they so choose. Parties typically stand as many candidates as there are seats available, though smaller parties may only stand one or two. The vast majority of voters appear to vote a ‘straight ticket’ as the Americans say, voting for the three candidates of one party such as Labour or the Conservatives. Others however may split their vote or ration it out more sparingly, giving it to two candidates of a party and denying the third—sometimes with good reason, other times with more unsavoury justifications such as the candidate having a ‘more foreign’ sounding name than the other two.

As an interesting historical note, bloc vote actually used to be used for nearly all elections in the UK prior to 1885, when parliamentary reforms made single-seat constituencies with pure FPTP the norm. All your ancestors—well, all of those who had the right to vote—would have been accustomed to casting two votes for two candidates in general elections. The last multi-seat constituencies lasted until 1950, which does tend to render some of the claims of the No campaign in the Alternative Vote referendum of 2011 (remember that?) that the UK had used FPTP since ‘time immemorial’ a little suspect. Bloc vote also used to be used for many American elections, and remains in use for some local elections there.

To return to here and now: how does bloc vote compare to pure single-member FPTP? The multiple seats available can produce some interesting results such as split wards with two councillors from one party and the third from another, remarkably complicating attempts to map such election results. However, bloc vote is similar to pure FPTP in that the representatives elected by it often bear no resemblance to the popular vote figures. To illustrate this, compare the two graphs below:

The most obvious red flag (no pun intended) should be raised by the 2002 result, where the Conservatives substantially outpolled Labour yet won fewer seats—Labour had won some in wards with lower turnout and some on pluralities with vote-splitting, meaning they obtained more seats for fewer votes. The result was that Labour continued to run the council from 2002 to 2006, when another voting system might have produced a Conservative executive. 

Or rather a Conservative-led executive, for they would be unlikely to have a majority under a more proportional system. The Lib Dems among other parties would have seen greater representation among what bloc vote renders to be a strong two-party system in Croydon. Paradoxically, the Lib Dems won one seat in 2002 yet, even as their popular vote increased in 2006 and then 2010, they lost that one seat and failed to win any more. In 2010 almost one in five votes went to the Lib Dems yet every seat went to either Labour or the Conservatives.

With the Lib Dems’ present troubles, they are unlikely to win so many votes this time, but there are other parties that might suffer in their place: UKIP for example. We know this is possible because it has already happened elsewhere. In Plymouth in 2012, UKIP won 20% of the vote, a similar percentage to the Lib Dems in Croydon in 2010, and again were rewarded with zero seats, all of them going to either Labour ot the Conservatives.

This is not to say these votes are irrelevant, for they can often function as a ‘spoiler’ to split the vote and allow an unexpected winner through – Labour in a normally Conservative area, or perhaps vice versa. The conventional wisdom up to now is that the former is far more likely with UKIP, but the results tonight may let us know whether this remains true or not with UKIP’s newly expanded voter base. 

So whither bloc vote? There were brief plans in the 2000s by John Prescott to ditch it in London for rotating FPTP elections in one ward at a time, as used in many other UK cities, but these were abandoned. What of more proportional systems? The Lib Dems’ one lasting contribution to electoral reform in the UK is in Scotland, where the price for their Holyrood coalition with Labour in the 2000s was to institute Single Transferable Vote (STV) for Scottish council elections. This voting system, originally (ironically) created by the Englishman Thomas Hare in the nineteenth century, is also extensively used in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and in Australia for the Senate. It is not without its own controversies: a Senate election in Australia was recently re-run due to the bewilderingly large number of candidates on the ballot and obscure preference flows by some parties resulting in small joke or single-issue parties being elected on a tiny share of first preference votes. Still, it is an interesting counterfactual to ponder what changes to local government in England might be wrought by such a change of system as Scotland has already undergone.

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01.08

We’re now two and a half hours (or so) from the first result. There’s an increasing buzz in the count, and unsurprisingly, its name is UKIP.

“It’s interesting in there,” said one candidate, “it’s very, very  interesting. There’s a big UKIP presence.” In terms of people at the count? “No, in terms of ballots. There are lots of UKIP ballots.”

The political elite have apparently been bracing for this for some time – if it’s shocking people now, what does that mean the result is going to look like?

I wouldn’t start betting on a UKIP councillor being elected tonight, but I would expect to see lots of Croydon politicians of all parties saying ‘if UKIP hadn’t split our vote…’ tomorrow morning.

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00.33

It’s half past midnight, which means we are two and a half hours into the night and only three hours away from our first estimated result in Croydon. Hooray!

Meanwhile, there’s been suggestion that the Lib Dems are taking an absolute hammering in neighbouring Sutton. Some unnamed LDs are saying the council might go Tory. A blue surge of that scale on Croydon’s south-west border might mean something for our own results – or it might not. We’ll soon find out.

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00.04

I’m going to wander over to the count itself. Keep an eye on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates, and keep refreshing this page for more substantial ones.

Here’s what the count (or rather ‘verification’) looked like an hour ago:

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00.02

So – turnout.

It rained very heavily in Croydon today, but only for a few, short bursts. In other areas of the country, the assault from the heavens was more sustained.

What impact will this have? Regular readers will know that I always bang on about how the rain disproportionately affects Labour voters (allegedly because Tories are more likely to have cars and expendable fuel budgets) but it’s a fact that Labour activists around the borough were deeply concerned by the rain today.

With Sunderland’s results (the only ones we have so far) indicating a UKIP surge in Labour heartlands – they didn’t stand last time, and got 30% and second place this time – turnout for Labour will be key. UKIP claim they have a motivated electorate, moreso than the LibLabCon.

What do we know of Croydon’s history of turnout? Tom Anderson, tonight’s Peter Snow, has prepared this handy graph:

Tom had this to say about the graph:

One thing that is immediately obvious when looking at this graph is that
the turnout for all parties dramatically shoots up for 2010 compared to
2006 and 2002. This is small surprise if one knows that the 2010 local
elections happened at the same time as the 2010 general election, and
there are a significant number of people who will only turn out to vote in
general elections. Conventional wisdom is that while all parties have
voters like this, Labour tends to have a disproportionate number of them
compared to the Conservatives and this is reflected in the graph, with
Labour’s 2006-2010 increase being noticeably sharper than the Tories’.
Looking at the data on a ward to ward basis reveals that these extra
voters are not homogenously distributed but tend to be mostly associated
in the wards which are economically less well off. One of Labour’s
challenges today has been to convince these potential voters that the
election is worth voting in–in which they have doubtless been helped by
being in opposition at Westminster and having a government to attack.

Today has also had inclement weather, which tends to hurt turnout.
Conventional wisdom from the 1960s and 70s suggests that rain tends to
hurt Labour and help the Conservatives, but this is arguably based on
outdated assumptions such as the idea that only Tory voters are rich
enough to own cars and drive to the polling station! Another factor which
did not exist in that era is postal voting. We now find ourselves in the
curious situation that any one of the party leaders could have a huge
scandal on election day and have their party win no votes at all at the
polling booth, yet still potentially win some contests due to the number
of postal votes already sent off. A question which remains uncertain is
which party benefits most from postal votes: over the past few years, many
have said Labour (which was, after all, the party to introduce postal
voting). On the other hand, UKIP’s new voters are generally assumed to be
mostly older people who may have preferred a postal vote. The results
today should help clarify who is right on this issue.

One thing seems certain: turnout will fall relative to 2010. But this was
inevitable even without the poor weather. We should judge the civic
engagement of Croydonians not by comparing 2014′s turnout to 2010′s, but
by pretending that 2010 does not exist and contrasting 2014 to the more
comparable votes of 2002 and 2006. There was a small but noticeable
increase in turnout from 2002 and 2006 – let us hope that this trend
continues in 2014, whatever the weather.

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23.47

In more ‘everything is relevant’ news: in Sunderland, Labour have narrowly taken one of the few Conservative wards in the Labour-friendly city. However, the Labour vote is much narrower than in 2012, and closer to 2011 levels. UKIP, of course, is the extra factor.

If this is indicative of the national swing we will be seeing tonight, it may be the case that Croydon’s council is determined by a few hundred votes for UKIP.

The candidate canteen (which we’re totally going to start calling The Spin Room) is filling up. Andrew Pelling and Mario Creatura, two of the Croydon Twitterati’s ‘favourite’ candidates, are here.

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23.31

I was just on Croydon Radio with Bieneosa Ebite. We had a good chat – catch the podcast when it’s up.

Labour have held Sunderland, which is unsurprising. Closer to home, we’ve got not much to report, other than that Mike Fisher, Conservative leader in Croydon, has been spotted looking rather dejected.

Coming up: a bit of a round robin of stories around the elections today.

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23.13

Tonight I’m not completely alone. If I’m Dimbleby (which I’m not), then Tom Anderson is my Peter Snow. He’ll be on-hand to present some interesting stats, graphs and observations tonight, and in particular some data that should help us estimate how tonight will go. The first of these graphs should be up shortly.

Ballots are now being verified, not counted, but things are moving here. No suggestion of anything disastrous happening so far. Shasha Khan, co-leader of Croydon Greens, is talking to Bieneosa now. I’ll try and grab him for an impression of how the Greens think they’ve done tonight.

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23.01

The Croydon ‘ward board’ – low-tech but incredibly useful and important tonight. Waddon, Ashburton and New Addington seem to be the ones to keep an eye on. The Citizen’s high-tech counterpart should be up and running by the time results start to come in.

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22.47

Croydon’s 22 wards have 70 councillors between them. The Conservatives surrently control 37, Labour 33. Just four councillors hold the balance, and as such, a single change of three councillors would be enough to win Labour control of the council. The Guardian’s man in Croydon thinks Labour have done enough to achieve that. If he’s right, which ward will it be? The traditional swing ward of Waddon, or the wildcard of Ashburton?

Stay with us.

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22.42

A quick look at the other media around tonight:

East London Lines are running a live blog, you can read it here. They’re sat next to me.

Bieneosa Ebite is doing a live show at this very moment from the count, and you can listen here.

The national press has turned its attention to Croydon as it’s something of a ‘battle borough’ – and the Guardian has already called it for Labour. 

Coming up next: a reminder of the electoral situation tonight.

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22.17

As the ballot boxes make their way toward Trinity, how are the major parties feeling today went?

Labour are trying to end eight years of Conservative rule tonight, and seem cautious but open to optimism – in a surprise move, the last few weeks of the campaign saw them put a lot of resources into Ashburton, a traditionally safe Conservative ward. The traditional battleground of Waddon, on the other hand, looked like it was coming down to the wire tonight. If one of those wards goes to Labour, and nothing else changes, then Croydon will see a change of government tomorrow morning.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, seem confident but also faced up to some realities today – their much-talked-about ‘challenge ward’ of Addiscombe, that they hoped to take from Labour, is rumoured to have received little attention today from the local leadership. Boris Johnson, on the other hand, visited highly marginal New Addington for the Conservatives – perhaps prompted by the rumours that UKIP are doing very well on postal votes in that ward.

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

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22.08

Good evening, and welcome to the Croydon Citizen’s 2014 local elections liveblog. I, Tom Black, will be providing you with live updates from the count here at Trinity School. The polls have closed, and the ballot boxes on their way to the count. The first section of tonight’s action will be centred on the arrival of those boxes – it’s an impressive operation, which makes sense as Croydon has a population of 370,000.

We won’t just be focused on Croydon tonight – while the European election results aren’t legally declarable until Sunday (because we might prejudice the countries in Europe that vote on Sunday), we’ll be analysing the rumours, leaks and results from around the country, in particular South London.

Buckle up, grab yourself a banana and a coffee and let’s get cracking.

Coming up: the moods of the local parties as the polls close

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

More Posts


The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

More Posts