Staffordshire County Council election: One new councillor joins fold in Stafford – and another tells of social media abuse during campaign


While several seats changed hands and colours at local authorities across the West Midlands, it was business as usual in the Stafford area at this year’s Staffordshire County Council election.

Just one new councillor was elected to represent the Stafford division – and all nine seats remained with the parties that have held them for the past nine years.

Stafford Borough Council member Gillian Pardesi won the Stafford Central ward vacated by her Labour colleague Maureen Compton, who has stood down from the county council after serving three terms since 2005.

Ms Pardesi said: “I’m very grateful to my predecessor Maureen, who gave me a very secure ground to build on. I’m also proud to be – I believe – the first woman of colour to represent Stafford on the county council.

“I thank everybody who put their trust in me. I will serve with loyalty, integrity, honesty and a lot of hard work.”

The Conservatives aimed to take the Stafford Central seat to add to their growing collection across the region, but candidate Paul Startin missed out by just 98 votes.



Gillian Pardesi

Labour had also hoped to gain in the Stafford area, yet candidates including the borough council opposition group leader Aidan Godfrey instead walked away with just the seat they arrived with.

Mr Godfrey, who contested the Stafford West seat retained by Carolyn Trowbridge, said, he was disappointed to see the pattern of Labour losses across the country being repeated in Stafford. “We will take this on board,” he added.

“We had some excellent candidates and we’re delighted that Gillian has been elected. She will do a fabulous job on the county council.”



Carolyn Trowbridge
Carolyn Trowbridge

Mrs Trowbridge paid tribute to the efforts of her Labour rival following her win. She said: “I wouldn’t have minded if Aidan had won – he is a nice guy.

“But I’m happy with the result and very pleased to win. I will continue the good work.”

The other Conservative county councillors who kept their positions in the Stafford district were Jonathan Price (Stafford North), Ann Edgeller (Stafford South East), John Francis (Stafford Trent Valley), Jeremy Pert (Eccleshall), Ian Parry (Stone Rural), and Mark Winnington (Gnosall and Doxey).



Jill Hood

But the Stone Urban seat remained out of reach for the Tories, instead going back to independent candidate Jill Hood.

She said: “I’m over the moon that people came out and voted for me again. I will continue with my hard work and hope that people think they get value for their vote.”

Mr Winnington paid tribute to members of the Gnosall community who had supported him after he was targeted with abusive messages on social media.



Mark Winnington

“It has been a hard campaign and I had to report Facebook comments to the police”, he said. “It’s been upsetting for my family.

“I will speak to the new police, fire and crime commissioner about what can be done to stop people being targeted by keyboard warriors. It can affect people’s mental health.”

Mr Francis was glad to stay in office to oversee road safety measures being put in place in his division, while Mr Price said there were ongoing issues in Stafford to be tackled, such as flooding.



John Francis

“I’m really humbled by the increased majority I have got and I want to thank everybody who voted for me”, he added. “I will support everybody in Stafford North, regardless of how they voted.”

Mrs Edgeller said: “There is an awful lot of work to be done. I’m very excited to be back and I want to thank everybody that has helped, including volunteers and most of all my husband.”



Jonathan Price and Ann Edgeller

Mr Pert said: “It has been a very difficult 14 months during the Covid pandemic and there is a lot still for us all to do going forward, both in terms of recovery and making sure we take the opportunity to secure resources across Staffordshire to build back better.”



Jeremy Pert

Mr Parry is now one of the longest-serving members of the county authority, having clocked up 24 years in office.

He said: “I’m really pleased to have the continued support from my residents and I hope to continue serving them in the future.”



Ian Parry with wife Sarah Parry

The results were welcomed by Stafford MP Theo Clarke, who joined her Conservative colleagues’ celebrations at the end of Saturday’s count.

Counting of the area’s votes took place as usual at Stafford Leisure Centre, but was delayed until Saturday to allow the police, fire and crime commissioner ballots to be counted on Friday.

Measures to make the count Covid-secure included screens set up between the counters, face masks and a one-way system for candidates and agents walking around the tables.

Returning officer Tim Clegg made the declarations from a socially-distanced podium in the middle of the room.



Masked vote counters separated by screens





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