Local elections 2024: Rural communities feel ‘politically homeless’ 

Rural communities feel “unseen, unheard and politically homeless”, said a countryside campaigner following local elections. 

Rural communities feel “unseen, unheard and politically homeless”, said Country Land and Business Association following local elections 2024.

Local elections, called “the last big test of public opinion before a general election”, saw Labour gain more than 180 council seats to take control of eight councils. 

Among its strong gains were Hartlepool, Rushmoor, Hyndburn, Milton Keynes, Tamworth and Adur.

The Conservative Party has lost nearly half of the council seats, losing over 470 councillors. Conservatives hardly made any gains, however it held its majorities in Harlow and Fareham.

The Liberal Democrats gained 104 councillors, winning in areas such as Tunbridge Wells and Dorset. However, they failed to take one of its other key targets – Wokingham. 

The Green Party has boosted its total number of councillors to 812 after gaining 74 seats. Greens became the largest political group in Hastings and also gained seats in Norwich, Bristol and south Tyneside.

The most notable gains for independent candidates were made in Oldham and Kirkless.

Shifting allegiances 

The president of Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Victoria Vyvyan, commented on the election results, saying that rural communities feel unseen, unheard, and for the first time in a generation, they feel “politically homeless”.  

CLA president, Victoria Vyvyan.

She added: “After decades of economic neglect, it’s no surprise to see shifting allegiances in the countryside. 

“Tory losses demonstrate traditional loyalties no longer apply. The vote is there for the taking for the party willing to match our aspirations. 

“As the general election nears, we want to see radical ambition from political leaders. From policies for driving economic growth, to tackling the rural housing crisis and bearing down on crime blighting our communities. 

Ms Vyvyan added that political stereotypes given to the countryside and farmers were “nonsense”. 

“We don’t give our votes for life, we lend them for five years, and this year the loan is up for renewal,” she concluded. 

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