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2017: General election

Biographical note:  Doug Swanney

2017: County Council elections

Labour's manifesto for Hertfordshire 2017

Information on the new system of individual registration

Information on postal votes and proxy votes

Information on voting systems used in elections

Information on  elections in 2016 and earlier years

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General election: best result since 2001

9.5 percentage points increase in Labour vote

Doug SwanneyDoug Swanney increased the Labour vote by 9.5 percentage points in North East Hertfordshire to 28.3%. Sir Oliver Heald's majority was cut by 2,245.

This really does look like the beginning of rebuilding the Labour vote in the constituency towards results like those in 1997 and 2001 (when Oliver Heald's majoritywas in the 3,000s), and maybe even beyond.

Doug Swanney's achievement is, in fact, greater than these figures show, for three reasons. First, although the constituency is largely the same as when it was formed in 1997, it has had some additional areas added (Walkern, Little Berkhamstead) which tend to have a large proportion of Conservative voters. 

Second, we have seen in this election the collapse of the vote for smaller parties. The Liberal Democrat candidate held their vote steady at this election compared with 2015, but it was nevertheless less than half their vote in 2001. This time, there was not even a UKIP candidate, whereas in previous elections they have taken a proportion of the vote, especially two years ago when the UKIP vote was nearly 13%.

Third, this was a snap election and Doug Swanney was only confirmed as the Labour candidate about six weeks before the election. He had very little time to get his message over to the constituency, particularly as it covers a very large geographical area. In 2001, our candidate, Ivan Gibbons, had a much longer period and also benefited from having been the candidate in 1997 as well.

However, there remains a considerable hill to climb, but the vigour of our campaign, involving many new members, the national re-action to the unexpectedly good results won by the Labour Party, and the very significant increase in the standing of Jeremy Corby as leader augurs well for the future. 

The result was:

Sir Oliver Heald (Conservative): 32,587 (+3.3%)
Doug Swanney (Labour): 15,752 (+9.5%)
Nicky Shepard (Lib. Dem.): 4,276 (+0.1%)
Tim Lee (Green): 2,695 (no change)

9 June 2017 (added to on 12 June 2017)

Doug Swanney

Parliamentay candidate in 2017

Doug SwanneyDoug grew up in a small town outside Glasgow, at a time of industrial decline. Brought up by a single mother determined to do her best for their family, he has believed from an early age in the importance of community, fairness, and social justice.

After school Doug went on to Glasgow University, taking a Bachelor of Divinity degree, and then a Master’s degree at Columbia University, New York City. 

Back in the UK, he took a series of jobs working with children, improving child protection, and addressing the needs of those in care. This led on to working as a children’s development officer for the Methodist Church, and an Advanced Diploma in Education from the Open University.

Doug has since been promoted into a management role and, four and a half years ago, he became Connexional Secretary of the Methodist Church. In effect this is Chief Operating Officer, the most senior role for a layman in the church. He now has a staff of 195, based in London and around the country, and maintains links with Methodist Churches in other countries throughout the world. To enhance his effectiveness in this role, he has also taken an MBA (Master in Business Administration) at the University of Westminister. 

Doug made his home in Letchworth Garden City over a decade ago, and now, at the age of 43, feels that he must make a decisive stand for what he believes to be right – not just for himself, but for the whole country.

Although his job offers the opportunity to make an important contribution to addressing key issues in our society, he also offered himself as a candidate for the County Council. Then, when we found ourselves confronted unexpectedly with a General Election, he agreed to stand as the Labour candidate for his home constituency. 

“We see all around us,” he says, “the damage to the services we hold dear – and it is the most vulnerable who are being hit the hardest. I want to change that.”

23 May 2017

Doug Swanney's pledges

Doug's five pledges are:

In his election address, he elaborates on three of these pledges:

Adequate funding for education

Many Hertfordshire headteachers have written to parents about 35 to 45% cuts in funding per pupil. Labour would provide adequate funding for schools and restore student maintenance grants, rather than lavishing 138 million on "Free Schools" and re-introducing selective schools.

Our approach to Brexit

The Tories want this election to be about an angry and destructive Brexit, with burnt bridges and division at its heart. Labour see this this next chapter as a chance to once again create a Britain for the many - not the few; a Brexit that builds stronger relationships and a fairer economy for all.

The Tories have pushed the NHS into crisis

Waiting lists have soared to around 3.8 million; last year over 1.8 million people waited longer than four hours in A&E; and 4.6 billion has been cut from social care budgets. We will end health service privatisation and bring services into a secure, publicly-provided NHS.

7 June 2017

County Council elections: results

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Doug Swanney campaigning in WilburyDoug Swanney (centre, without a letter board), Labour's candidate for Letchworth North, campaigning in Wilbury.

Letchworth North

Unfortunately, Doug Swanney failed to win Letchworth North. This is a new division, but is largely the same as Letchworth North-West, which Lorna Kercher won for Labour with a majority of 48 over the Conservatives in 2013. Doug lost to the Conservatives by a margin of107.

In fact, Doug had a slightly bigger proportion of the vote (40.6%), in a four-way fight, than Lorna did in 2013 (39.1%), in a five-way fight, so there is some comfort in that: the Tories benefited from the fact that there was no far right candidate (in 2013 the English Democrats had 11% of the vote).

The rest of North East Herts

Elsewhere in this constituency, the Conservatives won, except in Royston West and Rural, which was taken by the Liberal Democrats. These seats are listed below, showing the percentage of the vote taken by Labour

Letchworth South: Jean Andrews was second with 21% of the vote.

Baldock and Letchworth East: Anne Holland was second with 20% of the vote.

Royston West and Rural: a new division, taken by the Liberal Democrats, with the Tories second. Ken Garland had 8% of the vote.

Royston East and Ermine: also a new division, taken by the Tories with the Liberal Democrats second. John Rees had 12% of the vote.

Hertford Rural*: Catherine Henderson was second with 11% of the vote.

Buntingford:  Steven Stone was second with 12% of the vote.

Ware North*: Murray Sackwild was third, behind the Liberal Democrats, but had 14% of the vote.

Bishop's Stortford Rural*: Alex Young was third, behind the Liberal Democrats, with 11% of the vote.

* These divisions are partly in other constituencies.

The whole county

Labour now has nine county councillors. In 2013, we won 15 seats. The worst blow was that Leon Reefe, the previous leader of the Labour Group, lost his Borehamwood North seat by 273 votes.

It is pleasing to note that Judi Billing won Hitchin North, in our neighbouring constituency, resoundingly, with 51% of the voteand a majority of 1008, an increase of 3 percentage points on the by-election at which she won the seat in 2013.

You can see the full results here.

Labour's ten promises for Hertfordshire are here.

More on Labour candidates for our County Divisions

Letchworth North: Doug Swanney

This division is a new one, but is similar to the division currently held for Labour by Lorna Kercher. Lorna is moving away from Letchworth to be closer to family. She has served the Labour Party extremely well, both on the North Herts District Council and on Hertfordshire County Council. She goes with our gratitude and very best wishes. We hope that she and Les will enjoy their new home.

Our candidate for the division is Doug Swanney, who is a worthy successor to Lorna and who is now canvassing hard in the division.

Doug SwanneyDoug has lived in Letchworth Garden City for over 11 years. "I feel very proud," he says, "both to have made this my home, and now to have been selected to stand as a Labour candidate in the County Council elections this May. Living in the division gives me a real understanding of the issues that concern our community and I want to ensure that I can represent all of those concerns."

He goes on to say: "There have been times in our history where we all need to make a stand for what is right, and for those things that we need and deserve - a properly funded NHS, a social care service we can be proud of, and education services which are open and equal for all. This is not the county that the Tories are providing, and never has it been more vital to have a strong and co-ordinated Labour voice in local government. I am truly frightened that Britain is becoming a less tolerant, less welcoming place to live and we must stand up for the society we want to be part of."

You can read Doug's election address here.

Baldock and Letchworth East: Anne Holland

This is also a new division and comprises all of Baldock, including Baldock East (Clothall Common), part of the Letchworth East ward (south of the railway line) and Jackman's Place.Anne Holland

Anne says: "I was born and brought up in Hertfordshire. I have lived in the heart of beautiful, historic Baldock for over 20 years and am a recently retired primary school teacher. I have two grown up children who went to school locally.  Like many residents, I am concerned about the future of our young people. If elected to the County Council I will work hard to ensure all our children have a place in an excellent school near to their home and that services like Sure Start and Home Start are properly funded."

Anne's concerns include the need for environmentally sustainable homes for local people, including social housing for rent, the need for more local jobs and better train and bus services. She is strongly opposed to the dismantling of the NHS. Some of these are outside the direct remit of the County Council, but, where the County could help, for example by preventing "bed-blocking", she would work hard to ensure that they do so.

You can read Anne's election address here.

Other divisions in the constituency

Jean AndrewsKen GarlandJohn ReesSteven StoneCatherine Henderson

The pictures above are (left to right):

Letchworth South: Jean Andrews
Royston West and Rural: Ken Garland
Royston East and Ermine: John Rees
Buntingford: Steven Stone
Hertford Rural: Catherine Henderson

Click on their names to read their election addresses.

The following two divisions are mainly in the Hertford and Stortford constituency, but Ware North includes the ward of Thundridge and Standon, and Bishop's Stortford Rural includes Little Hadham.

Ware North: Murray Sackwild
Bishop's Stortford Rural: Alex Young

There are also two by-elections in Royston and the Labour candidates are:

Royston Heath District Council ward: Vaughan West
Heath Royston Town Council ward: Robin King.

Labour's 10 promises for Hertfordshire

1.   Labour will bring failing Care Services in-house and will review the way Care in the Home is administered.

Too many care homes are now at risk of failing. 5 billion has been cut, nationally, from care services in the past 6 years and the results are obvious. This risks the wellbeing of residents as well as the jobs of hard pressed care workers. We will take over responsibility for failing care services and make them fit for the people of Hertfordshire. We will help set up co-operative systems so that all homes can buy in quality services and supplies. We will have Care Homes and Home Care that are run efficiently by staff working on a proper living wage, with consequent high morale, and that have the ability to speedily take in patients who no longer need to stay in hospital.

Care in the Home must be properly organised and funded so that it functions for the benefit of those who can be looked after in their own homes. The Tories and Lib Dems have shown they don’t want this. Labour will make the right choices on this service and improve it.

2.   Labour will work to save your NHS services that are failing under the Tories

We will seek, in consultation with key commissioning groups, to bring in more front-line clinicians and make sure the care of patients is the first call on funding. Nationally 9 billion has been cut from the NHS in the past 6 years – the current crisis was inevitable and avoidable. Working with the Care Services we will develop a system that will free up more beds and give the NHS the chance to treat more patients. Labour is the only party that will stay true to the ethos of the NHS. The Tories will continue to squeeze the life from it, the Lib Dems will shed crocodile tears whilst fully supporting Tory cuts, and the UKIP leader just wants it fully privatised.

3.   Labour will return to full night lighting

If Labour is elected to run Hertfordshire County Council on May 4th, we will switch the street lights back on. It was Labour’s idea to update the street lighting system to make it more efficient, save energy and save money. With this new system we will be able to effectively manage each community’s individual needs. Street lights save lives – that’s why they were put there.

4.   Labour will make Highways Maintenance a First Class service

Our roads and pavements are a disgrace. The maintenance was outsourced by the Tories and they reduced it from Gold Standard to Bronze -  and it shows. Potholes, failed street lights and unnecessary flooding are the result. This failed contract ends in 2019 and Labour will re-establish an in-house department that provides a real public service for the benefit of the public.  Labour will also properly maintain and expand the cycle network across the County, so that cycling is seen as a benefit not as a danger.

5.   Labour will restore bus services, pay our fair share to keep Hertfordshire's TfL buses and provide TfL Freedom passes for residents

For too many years the Tories have set about destroying the ethos of Public Transport. Almost all services are greatly diminished and we no longer pay for TfL buses; how long will TfL ‘subsidise’ Hertfordshire residents? Make no mistake, another Tory administration after May will see contracted bus services scrapped.  Labour will re-negotiate the bus franchises for the benefit of the people. Labour will also seek to use the County’s development company to run services. We need smart, efficient and reliable public transport services. People need choices so that they can rely on these services.

We will work with the Mayor of London and TfL to continue providing quality public bus services into Hertfordshire for the benefit of the residents. Labour also believes there is an urgent need to negotiate with TfL and Central Government, the means by which Hertfordshire can have transport access across the County. The current plan to implement an extension of Crossrail 2 from the Kings Cross area to East Hertfordshire (around the Cheshunt area) should include a possible route across the County westwards finishing in Buckinghamshire - thereby giving full public transport access North, South, East and West around the County.

In London, senior citizens, the disabled and some student groups have benefitted from the Mayor of London’s Freedom Pass. We think the people of Hertfordshire should have access to a similar scheme.   When elected, Labour will seek to introduce a TfL Freedom Pass for Hertfordshire residents, in addition to the existing bus pass.

6.   Labour will ensure First Class schools for all our children

All children will have access to a First Class education system. Financial or post-code inequalities will be eliminated from nursery, primary, secondary and further education. School place availability will be properly planned, and we will reduce the need for children to travel across the county to get their education. We will oppose any government attempts to remove local accountability for parents and elected representatives. We will oppose forced academisation and any plans to re-introduce selection for our children through the creation of new grammar schools.

With all our might we will champion developing the imagination, skills and talents of every child, and will wholeheartedly support vocational as well as academic education. Every child in Hertfordshire should be entitled to and receive the very best education we can provide. We can do this at their local school in their local community. There should be no more excuses.

7.   Labour will improve Children's Services

Children’s Services have borne the brunt of severe cuts in funding. This has been a perplexing and deeply worrying consequence of the Tories’ ideological austerity plan. If Labour is elected, these cuts will stop. We will ensure that the wishes and aspirations of parents of children with special educational needs or disabilities are fully taken into account.

We will stop the Tory Council’s shameful practice of  pursuing legal action against families; instead we will establish a high quality mediation process for disputes. We will ensure that the families of children with special educational need have access to help and support throughout their child’s education.  We will work with Youth Connexions to make sure that all young people receive timely and expert Careers Advice and information about all the youth services available in our community. Labour will also restore funding to Hertfordshire Home Start and will maintain, rebuild and support the Sure Start Centres.

8.   Labour will re-open all Household Waste Recycling sites
7 days a week

Incidents of fly tipping have increased by 17.9% since the closure of the waste recycling sites. It costs more to clean up fly tipping than to provide adequate waste disposal. The Tory council was warned this would be the consequence of their actions, but arrogantly refused to listen. The waste and recycling sites provide a much needed and much used public service for residents. Labour will re-negotiate the outsourced contract and re-open the sites, or bring this public service back in-house. Profits will be re-invested in our public services.

9.   Labour will review and repair our flood defences

The Tories on Hertfordshire County Council have been left floundering by their own government on many issues -  none more so than flood defence. Hertfordshire County Council has been given the title of Local Lead Flood Authority, but without funding or the power to act quickly. In the last three years they have conducted two Flood Defence Reviews, and then done absolutely nothing. Labour would establish, as a matter of urgency, a 6 million Flood Defence Reserve Fund and start protecting our residents immediately.

10.   Labour will take the lead in providing Social Housing for rent

This Tory government has failed to make good on its promises on housing. They throw figures around like confetti – 200 thousand, 300 thousand, one million new homes per year by 2020. They haven’t built affordable housing (real affordable housing) because they don’t believe in affordable housing. Labour absolutely believe in providing real affordable housing for local people. Labour in power will work through its own development company and with other councils and developers to build, and make land available for, social rented homes as a matter of priority.

Boundary changes - County Council divisions

The newly named North Letchworth division now consists of the wards of Letchworth Wilbury, Letchworth Grange and that part of Letchworth East which is north of the railway line. Baldock and Letchworth East comprises Baldock Town, Baldock East and the part of Letchworth East which is south of the railway line, plus Jackmans Place. Letchworth South is the wards of Letchworth South West and Letchworth South East, less Jackmans Place.

There are radical changes in division boundaries in Royston and the surrounding area. Royston West & Rural consists of the wards of  Arbury, Weston & Sandon and the parts of Ermine and Royston Heath wards which are to the west of the A10. Royston & Ermine consists of the rest of Ermine ward, plus Royston Palace and Royston Meridian.

Within the East Herts District, the Braughing division is renamed Buntingford, but no longer includes Dane End, which is moved to Hertford Rural Division. In other respects, the Hertford Rural division is unchanged: it includes Datchworth and Aston, which is part of Stevenage constituency. 

Ware North, which is mainly in the Hertford & Stortford constituency, still includes the Thundridge and Standon ward. The Little Hadham ward forms a very small part of the Bishop's Stortford West division, which is almost entirely in the Hertford & Stortford constituency.

Are you registered to vote?

A new register came into force in December 2016.

If you have moved to your present address recently, you need to register individually. The fact that the council knows you have moved in does not mean that you are registered to vote.

If you are doubtful whether you are on the register, check with your district council:

Last date to register for the General Election: last date was 22 May 2017

It's easy to register

All you have to do to register is to go to the government's registration website here. You will need your national insurance number. Or you can ring the appropriate number above or go to the council's website (see below) for a form.

More information on individual registration

Under the old system, one person in the household could register all the members of that household to vote. The new system is designed to be less liable to fraud and involves every voter registering individually. This new system was fully introduced in 2016.

If the council could match you registration record with the records held by the government for National Insurance purposes, you were carried over on to the new register. 

If this was not the case, you were sent an invitation to register.

If your council did not have information about the residents in your household, they will have sent a household enquiry form. Replying to this does not register the members of the household. Those listed will then be sent an invitation to register individually. If they have not done so, they will not be on the register.

During the year, if you are not on the electoral register, you can apply to be put on to it. This is called the "rolling register". You can get more information and download the form from your District Council's website (below) or you can register online by going to You will need your National Insurance Number.

Apart from your right to vote, you may find it difficult to obtain credit if you are not on the register. It is usually the first thing that lenders check. Not responding to a request for information regarding voter registration from your council could make you liable to a fine of 80.

Postal and Proxy Voting

You can choose to have a postal vote, either for a specific election or permanently. You do not have to explain your reason for wanting to vote by post. Go to your District Council's website (see below).

In certain circumstances someone else can vote for you (proxy vote). In this case, you will have to explain why you need a proxy vote. Your proxy must also be registered to vote. There is more information on the District Council websites below and you can download the appropriate application form. In a medical emergency and some other situations, you can apply for an emergency proxy vote, right up to polling day.

Last date to apply for postal or postal proxy vote: 23 May 2017 (5 pm)
Last date to apply for proxy vote: 31 May 2017 (5 pm)
Last date to apply for emergency proxy vote: 8 June 2017 (5 pm)

More information

For more information, click on the appropriate link below to go to your District Council website or download the appropriate form from the links below:

Voting Systems

European Election

Elections are conducted on a regional basis, with a varying number of Members of Parliament per region. The East of England is entitled to seven MEPs. Parties put forward a list of candidates and electors vote for the party list or for an independent candidate (the "closed list" system).

The party (or independent candidate) with the most votes takes the first seat for the first candidate on their list. The vote for each party is then divided the number of seats gained +1. This means that the vote for the party winning the first seat is divided by 2 and all the rest by 1, i.e. they stay the same. The second seat is allocated on this basis and again the votes are divided by the number of seats gained +1. The third seat is then allocated on this modified vote, and so on until all the seats are filled.

North Hertfordshire District Council

The district is divided into wards with two or three councillors. One-third of the councillors are elected each year, except the year of the County Council elections. Normally, the councillor elected earliest stands down and there is only one seat in a given ward up for election. The election is on the "first past the post" system. If there is more than one seat up for election in a ward, then electors in that ward have as many votes as there are seats.

East Hertfordshire District Council

The district is divided into wards with one or two councillors. All seats are up for election every four years, on the "first past the post" system or, in the case of two member wards, where electors have two votes, "the first two past the post". The next election will be in 2015.

Hertfordshire County Council

The county is divided into one-member divisions, who are elected every four years on the "first past the post system". The next election will be in 2017.

Police and Crime Commissioner

If there are more than two candidates, the election for Police and Crime Commissioner is conducted using the "supplementary vote" system. You put a cross in the first column for your first choice and a cross in the second column for your second choice. If you wish, you may give only a first choice.

All the first choices are counted and, if one candidate has more than 50%, she (or he) is elected. If not, the top two candidates continue to a second round of counting: all other candidates are eliminated and the second-choice votes of everyone whose first choice was not for one of the top two are then counted. Any second-choice votes for the top two candidates are added to the first-round totals of those candidates. Whichever candidate has the greater number of votes after this process is the winner.

Labour's red roseHosted by Ltd., Units H, J, K, Gateway 1000, Whittle Way, Stevenage, Herts. SG1 2FP. Promoted by David Bell on behalf of the North East Hertfordshire Labour Party, both of Town Farm House, Mill End, Standon, Ware, Herts SG11 1LP.