Defeated Wirral Lib-Dem leader Simon Holbrook at the election count
LIB DEMS’ defeated leader in Wirral said the party was set back 10 years last night as Labour claimed a "moral mandate" in the council elections.
In a disastrous night for his party the Lib Dem leader Simon Holbrook lost his Prenton seat to Labour by more than 1,000 votes, leaving his party apparently rudderless – and down to just 10 seats.
Cllr Holbrook had been deputy leader of the council in a coalition with the Conservatives but last night the Labour group leader Steve Foulkes said the voters had "clearly lost trust" in the local partnership between Tories and Lib Dems.
Mr Holbrook said it could take his party 10 years to recover from their local election nightmare after Labour's Paul Doughty took the Prenton council seat he had held for 12 years with a majority of 1157.
Cllr Holbrook said: "I knew I was going to lose from the minute the first box was opened. I could see how people had voted. I knew it wasn't going to be our night at that point.
"When you're the incumbent candidate you don't expect to lose, certainly not by that scale. It's extremely disappointing.
"I think there's a strong element of protest voting.
"I've been getting text messages all night telling me what the picture is in other parts of the country and I don't think anything that happened here isn't happening all across the country."
He said he had no regrets about forming coalitions with first Labour and then, last year, the Conservatives but admitted: "It's always easier with hindsight to say what you would or wouldn't have done. But it's difficult to put any gloss on a set of results as bad as this. This sets the Liberal Democrats in Wirral back probably 10 years.