THE ruling Slough Labour Group faced a brutal battle at the polls in this year's election as the group lost its grip on the council.

The Conservative Group steamrolled at this year’s all-out election, which included brand new wards following a boundary review, and even defeated council leader James Swindlehurst (Lab) who lost his seat in Cippenham Green ward.

Unlike the previous two years where the Slough Labour Group won by a landslide, the council is now in no overall control, meaning no political party has won the majority.

With three Liberal Democrats taking a seat at Slough Borough Council, the Tories could go into a coalition with the Lib Dems to push through their agenda.

The new political make-up consists of 21 Conservative, 18 Labour, and three Liberal Democrats.

Labour was initially doing well but that momentum soon fell flat once the Conservatives and even Liberal Democrats started winning several seats.

It looked like the Conservative's strategy to use disgruntled former Labour councillors and candidates worked to ensure the ruling group don't win.

Reacting to Labour’s downfall, Conservative leader Dexter Smith (Colnbrook with Poyle) said it was “fantastic news” for the town and vowed to repair Slough’s financial crisis.

Slough Borough Council effectively declared bankruptcy in July 2021. The ruling Labour Group hiked up council tax by 10 per cent, made millions of pounds in savings, and is selling up to £600m of assets.

Cllr Smith said: “It’s a vote for change in Slough. We will deliver the change that will affect people’s lives in Slough positively and we will rejuvenate what is an industrial and commercial powerhouse in this country, and it will make people proud in the future, I am sure.”

When questioned if the Tories will end up in a coalition with the three Liberal Democrats, Cllr Smith did not rule it out and will be in discussion with them in the coming days.

He said: “It would be very perverse if they [Lib Dem] were to join with Labour and keep them in control.”

Another shock came when James Swindlehurst, the now former council leader, lost his seat at the local authority. He lost to ex-Labour councillor and Mayor Ishrat Shah (Con) and Robert Stedmond (Con).

Before the count even began, Mr Swindlehurst, who was a councillor for about 20 years, said he had a feeling that he would lose his seat to the Tories during the fight for the Cippenham Green ward.

Reacting to his defeat, Mr Swindlehurst said: “I’m clearly sorry not to get the chance to continue to representing my community because I care for the place I live and for the work we were engaged in to try and make things better.

“But the recovery journey at the council is a difficult one and the council tax rises is an unpopular measure but we needed that to restore our base budgets.

“As a consequence of that and as the figurehead of the council, I’m not surprised I’m being punished for that rise as people are struggling during the cost of living.”

Cllr Rob Anderson (Lab) was the lead member for financial oversight and was re-elected to represent the Britwell ward.

He said that Labour will now appoint their new leader on Tuesday and will hold the new cabinet to account as they have done in the previous coalition years in from 2004 to 2008.

However, he ruled himself out in the leadership bid and believed either Cllr Pavitar Kaur Mann (Lab: Britwell) or Cllr Christine Hulme (Lab: Herschel Park) will be the leader.

Cllr Anderson said: “Slough is going to face a difficult four years under a coalition of groups, which don’t really have the best interest in the town at heart other than themselves.”

Elsewhere, senior councillors Balvinder Bains (Lab), Satpal Parmar (Lab), and Preston Brooker (Lab) lost their seats to their Tory rivals.