Vote UKIP get Labour. This was an often used line by the national party during the campaign, but upon reading the Echo today, this appears to be exactly what is happening in Southend.
When a council is in no overall control it is inevitable that the various groups will be having discussions to see if they can form an administration. With five different groups represented on the Council I think it is inevitable that the next administration will comprise of at least three different groups.
The reports seem to suggest that the next administration will comprise of the Independent Party, Labour and the Lib Dems. As I am no longer a member of the Conservative Group, I am writing this from a position without inside knowledge.
With 19 seats, the Conservatives still remain the largest group on the Council. I still take immense pride in that I played my part in taking a Council, judged to be failing, to being Council of the year. This has been achieved whilst having to make millions of pounds in budget savings way before the economic crisis without impacting front line services.
I can understand from a Conservative Group viewpoint that you do not want to see all the hard work be unpicked and want to speak to the other groups for that to continue. The message from Thursday's poll however, is that people want to see a change of administration here in Southend.
With 9 seats Labour will be the king makers. From the scores of messages and emails that I received over the weekend, the realisation is now sinking in that those Conservatives who flirted with UKIP will end up with Labour part of an administration in Southend. This was a thought distant from their minds when ballots were cast.