Castle & Newnham Green candidate receives more votes than any other ward councillor

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Lucy Bywater, Paul Edmonds and Ben Foley - Green councillors elected a the 2023 local election in Bedford Borough
Green Party councillors Lucy Bywater, Paul Edmonds (Castle and Newnham ward) and Ben Foley (Greyfriars ward). Image: Bedford Green Party

Two Bedford Borough Council wards will be represented by Green Party councillors following last week’s local election, with one candidate receiving more votes than any other borough ward councillor.

Ben Foley and Lucy Bywater have been successful in seeking re-election as ward councillors. 

In 2019, Ben and Lucy were the first Green Party councillors to be elected in Bedford when they won both seats for the Castle ward.

This time, Lucy Bywater won a seat in the new two-councillor Castle and Newnham Ward (formed after boundary changes last year) and in doing so, she won more votes (1,689) than any other borough ward councillor.

She is joined by Paul Edmonds, and together they won 53 per cent of the ward vote.

Lucy said: “Breaking through into Bedford as the first elected Greens was such incredibly hard work.

“And our re-election now shows that we’ve proved ourselves to local people over the last four years through a particularly challenging period.

“Helping our residents and challenging the council’s executive on key issues that affect Bedford, from active travel to climate change and inequalities.

“I’m delighted to be working alongside Paul in Castle and Newnham ward, and we know Ben will carry on working as hard as ever in Greyfriars ward,” she said.

Ben Foley was elected to the new single-councillor Greyfriars ward.

The Green councillors said they are concerned about the lack of mandate for the newly elected Conservative Bedford mayor, Tom Wootton.

Ben said: “We don’t support the role of elected mayor as it concentrates too much power in one person’s hands, as our mayoral candidate Adrian Spurrell highlighted in his manifesto.

“In addition, the new mayor only got the support of about 12 per cent of Bedford’s electorate, with a turnout lower than in 2019 and with less than a third of those who did vote, voting for him.

“He has no mandate,” he said. 

The voter turnout for the 2019 mayoral election was two percentage points higher (37 per cent) than for this year’s election.

Adrian Spurrell also stood as a ward councillor and missed out on winning the new Biddenham Ward by 19 votes.

In neighbouring Central Bedfordshire Council, Susan Clinch took a seat for the Green Party in Ampthill, becoming the first Green elected to Central Bedfordshire Council.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

with additional reporting by Erica Roffe