Driffield NewsNEWS

Mayor tops Driffield vote and stops Conservative clean sweep

The Conservative Party suffered huge losses regionally and nationally in the local council elections last week, but changes in the Driffield area were more of a ripple.

Despite losing overall control of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Tories claimed eight of the nine seats in the Driffield and Rural, East Wolds and Coastal and Wolds Weighton wards.

The only candidate who stopped a clean sweep was Driffield’s mayor, Cllr Mark Blakeston, standing as an independent, who easily won the most votes in his home patch.

It was a different story for the Conservatives in Beverley Rural, which covers Leven, Lund, Lockington and Beswick, where the Liberal Democrats now have all three seats.

For Cllr Blakeston, winning more than 500 more votes than his nearest challenger came as quite a surprise, despite a very active and visible election campaign.

“I thought that on a really good day, I might come third,” he admitted. “I think there is an element of a protest vote for me, but I have been a town councillor for 10 years and during my year as mayor, I have been to 140 engagements. I said I would not just do all the civic engagements, and I have been to all the schools and met many residents.


Jenny ASPDEN (Lib Dem) 330 3.7%
Mark BLAKESTON (Ind) 1,718 19.4%
Andrew FROST (Con) 949 10.7%
Hollie HAENEY (Lib Dem) 324 3.7%
Richard HAWKINS (Lib Dem) 224 2.5%
Michael LEE (Con) 1,038 11.7%
Richard PHILLIPS (Lab) 764 8.6%
Wendy PHILLIPS (Lab) 873 9.8%
Matt ROGERS (Con) 1,202 13.6%
David THORLEY (Ind) 680 7.7%
Thomas WATSON (Lab) 767 8.6%

“I live in the centre of town, I have four children, and I know the local people. When you speak to them, their priorities are things like potholes and parking.

“I have not joined the council for a career, it was not a political decision. I believe I can make a difference by doing more of what I have been doing.

“This will be a big unknown for me. I have a full-time job and I am a really busy guy. But this is a big opportunity. There is a perception that Driffield plays second fiddle to Beverley and Bridlington and I want to influence change.”

He will be joined on the council by Conservatives Matt Rogers and Michael Lee, who both secured more than 1,000 votes.

Cllr Rogers said: “I’m over the moon, thank you to the voting population of Driffield who have come out and elected us back in. We have a good independent candidate who we will work with.

“Our electorate understands better than other wards that we are here for the East Riding, we can’t change what goes on nationally. I am as disappointed with what has gone as anybody but people have voted for good, local representatives.”

Cllr Lee added: “We are focussed on looking after the residents of the East Riding and trying to improve the lives of the people in Driffield. I applaud what Matt has said, Mark (Blakeston) is a very creditable candidate and he has done a great job as mayor of Driffield.

“We are all going to work together. Results overall have been very different to what we wanted but we can work with independent candidates to get good policies through.”

In the East Wolds and Coastal ward, Charlie Dewhirst and Jonathan Owen retained their seats and will be joined by Denise Howard, and the trio gained around double the votes of the fourth-placed candidate.


David BUTT (Lib Dem) 407 4.2%
Charlie DEWHIRST (Con) 1,941 19.9%
Judy DICKINSON (Lab) 862 8.8%
Peter GARFORTH (YP) 451 4.6%
David HOSKINS (Lib Dem) 339 3.5%
Denise HOWARD (Con) 1,653 16.9%
Mike JACKSON Greens 650 6.7%
Bill MEADOWS (Lab) 769 7.9%
Jonathan OWEN (Con) 1,802 18.5%
Ellie RIPTON (Lib Dem) 402 4.1%
John SCULLION Greens 485 5.0%

However, with the Conservatives losing overall control of the council, the leader’s role looks set to be very different going forwards, and Cllr Owen has since been replaced as leader of the Conservative group.

Cllr Owen said: “I am very, very sorry for people who have been excellent councillors who have lost their seats.

“I have no problems working together with other parties as we form a new council, cabinet and committees.

“Thanks to everybody, from all parties, who have done their best and to the residents, I assure them we will represent them all at the end of the day.”

Cllr Jonathan Owen, Cllr Denise Howard and Cllr Charlie Dewhirst were elected for East Wolds and Coastal.

Cllr Dewhirst said: “I’m delighted to be re-elected and that three Conservatives have been elected in East Wolds and Coastal.

“The hard work we put into the campaign has paid off and despite the disappointment across the board nationally, local people have seen the work we have done. We have got a good track record and work well with all 21 parishes.

“It is always difficult with the national picture and it is unfortunate that some candidates have been caught up in those issues, but East Wolds and Coastal residents have three hard-working councillors.”

On being elected for the first time, Cllr Howard said: “It has been a hard campaign but good for my fitness levels as we have been out and about.

“I’m looking forward to meeting more residents and getting to know more people. I’m local and I want to do my best for the area.”

There was a clean sweep for the Conservatives in Wolds Weighton, with Leo Hammond, Paul West and Derek Cary holding off the challenge of former council deputy leader Mike Stathers, who used to be a Conservative councillor but was standing as an independent.

Cllr Hammond said: “It is a mixture of relief and happiness. The national picture is not great but we have worked really hard in Wolds Weighton and we really care about the community.


Derek CARY (Con) 1,612 14.1%
Bridget COOPER (Lab) 825 7.2%
Mike COOPER (Lab) 757 6.6%
Leo HAMMOND (Con) 2,019 17.7%
Chris HEALY (Lib Dem) 521 4.6%
Gill HEALY (Lib Dem) 586 5.1%
Peter HEMMERMAN (YP) 1,033 9.0%
Gill LEEK (Greens) 757 6.6%
Bob MORGAN (Lib Dem) 418 3.7%
Catherine SIMPSON (Ind) 725 6.3%
Mike STATHERS (Ind) 801 7.0%

“We are home-grown candidates, not all the parties could say that. We fought a positive campaign and always will. Negative campaigns get you nowhere.”

Cllr West said: “People have been very generous with their support and their votes. Thank you to all of them, and to the helpers, whose work is really appreciated.”

Cllr Leo Hammond and Cllr Paul West won the vote in Wolds Weighton.

In Beverley Rural, things were different, with Cllr Diana Stewart holding the seat she won in a by-election and being joined by Jeremy Wilcock and Paul Smith, who were clear of the Conservative challenge by a few hundred votes.


Wendy CROSS (Lab) 464 4.1%
John FAWCETT (Lab) 397 3.5%
Madeleine HORTON (Con) 1,494 13.3%
Richard ROYAL (Con) 1,314 11.7%
Paul SMITH (Lib Dem) 1,870 16.6%
Diana STEWART (Lib Dem) 2,131 18.9%
Richard WARREN (Con) 1,412 12.5%
Jeremy WILCOCK (Lib Dem) 1,786 15.9%
Clare WILDEY (Lab) 400 3.5%

Overall, the Conservatives have lost majority control of the council, but remain the biggest party with 29 councillors, down 20. The Liberal Democrats gained 14 seats and have 22 representatives. There are nine independents, four Labour and three Yorkshire Party councillors.

Cllr Jeremy Wilcock, Cllr Paul Smith and Cllr Diana Stewart won a clean sweep for the Liberal Democrats in Beverley Rural, with the party enjoying success in several wards at the Beverley count.

Turnout for the election was 29 per cent in the East Riding, in Beverley Rural it was 36 per cent, in Driffield and Rural it was 27 per cent, 30 per cent in East Wolds and Coastal and 33 per cent in Wolds Weighton.

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