UK elections: local politics to show property sector where winds of change will blow

The Saint ReportPoliticians and Planning, saintblog0 Comments

By Nick Keable,
Vice President for UK Operations, The Saint Consulting Group

eu-flag Tomorrow (Thursday), the UK goes to the polls. This is an annual event usually on the first Thursday in May each year, but this year delayed until June to sync with the European parliamentary elections. Depending on which elections are due that year, some years are more interesting than others.

2009 is a relatively small affair: just the European Union MEP seats, all the county councils and a few other random district council seats are up for grabs.

What’s going to happen? Well, the current dominating story of political financial sleaze will produce an uncertain result in all contests, as voter disgust is registered in a super low turnout and a sizeable chunk of the electorate vote for smaller, no hope parties to register their discontent.

But for parts of the property sector, there are some important contests. If you interact with county councils – either directly because you work in the quarrying or waste industry, or indirectly because a county council is a consultee on any planning application you might make – then the winds of change may be about to blow.

Traditionally, the 34 county councils have been bastions of Conservativism. But even now, there are still pockets of other party support.

In the South West, the Lib Dems control Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. This is unlikely to change on Thursday.

The 24 counties held by the Tories will…still be held by the Tories. So no change there.

But, there is likely to be some change in the six held by Labour – Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland and Staffordshire – and maybe even an outside chance in Cumbria, which is a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition.

If you’ve been used to dealing with one fairly constant set of councillors, stand by for some changes.

Of course the next really big poll will be the General Election due by June 2010 (assuming Gordon Brown can last that long, which looks shakier by the minute at the moment) when, if the media and the opinion polls are to be believed, Brown’s unhappy premiership will end, and David Cameron’s Conservatives will be washed into office on a wave of anti-Labour sentiment. But you know, a week is a long time in politics so let’s see what actually happens.

Nick Keable is vice president for UK operations, The Saint Consulting Group, email: keable@tscg.co.uk, phone +44 207 592 7050

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