Until the formation of the SDP in 1981 neither of the two pre-merger political parties that became the Liberal Democrats had any success in Dacorum. Then a guy called Bill Faupel won a by-election in Grove Hill, shortly followed by another by-election in November 1981 when a certain Nick Hollinghurst was elected when the Labour councillor resigned.
At the following scheduled election in 1983 the first three councillors were elected as the SDP/Liberal Alliance. Topping the poll was Nick Hollinghurst, and he was joined by Gaynor Buxton-Hoare & Michael Blackman.
1987 was the alliance/Lib Dem peak for a very long time - the SDP/Liberal alliance was riding high in the polls and with a peak of 10 of the 58 councillors and 32% of the vote, second only to the Tories on 45%, Labour were third on 23%. All 10 Cllrs were from Hemel, Tring and Berkhamsted would have to wait for success.
The first election as the Liberal Democrats was in 1991, although the party was off our peak, for the first time broke out of Hemel and two of the four councillors came from Berkhamsted. Tring had to wait until 1995 to get it's first councillor.
Things carried on in much the same way until 2015 when the party was almost wiped out due to backlash from the coalition. Clinging on with Ron in Adeyfield, Brenda in Highfield and Roxanne in Tring which meant the Lib Dems survived and allowed us to re-group and storm to success in 2019.
2019 was a spectacular never before had the Lib Dems elected so many councillors to Dacorum, 19 councillors and 31% of the vote, Hemel alone elected 7 Cllrs and 24% of the Hemel vote, more than Labour for the first time since 1987 (Hemel 38% Con, 24% LibDem, 21% Lab) - was this the peak?, could it get any better?..... yes of course it could.
The party surpassed all expectations in May 2023 not only winning control of Dacorum, but getting 28 of the 51 councillors and 40% of the vote, well ahead of the second placed party the Tories on 32%. The Dacorum wide votes split Lib Dem 40%; Con 32%; Lab 17%. (Hemel share of the vote 1st Lib Dem 35% +11; 2nd Con 33% -6; 3rd Lab 23% +2)
I will note some names along the way that made this all possible for the Hemel area Lib Dems: Nick Hollinghurst for the SDP era, Geoff Lawrence without whom the Hemel Lib Dems would have collapsed if it wasn't for his energy keeping us going giving us a sound base of activists and infrastructure to build on and finally Colin Roe who did all our printing. This provided a sound footing for the team and I as campaign manager to deliver the success.
Thank you all, past and present for everything - a victory built on over 40 years of hard work
Lloyd Harris, Hemel area election agent and campaign manager