COLCHESTER has its first ever Green Party councillor who pulled off an emphatic victory over the town’s Tory leader.

Mark Goacher, a history teacher at Colchester Sixth Form College, defeated incumbent candidate Darius Laws by more than 800 votes in Castle ward.

Following his victory, Mr Goacher promised to bring a fresh voice to the council and said he wanted to give residents the chance to get more involved in the running of the council.

He said: “I am delighted. It was a lot more comfortable than I thought but you can never be certain.

“We are pleased with the size of the margin.

“The glass ceiling has been broken and it shows Greens can actually win in places like Colchester.”

Whilst he did not commit to joining the rainbow coalition, he said as a progressive, the Greens had more in common with the ruling parties.

He said he would “be speaking to his agent over the coming days” about his relationship with council leaders.

The Green share of the vote was up in most wards and Mr Goacher said this pointed to a bright future for the Colchester arm of the party.

He said: “The results in Colchester are being married with those elsewhere across the country.

“People are looking outside of the main two parties for who to vote for.”

He added: “I want to pay tribute to Darius Laws who has been an excellent councillor for Castle ward.”

Mr Laws said he would continue working with the Colchester Conservatives, who will now have to choose a new leader.

He said: “We knew it was going to be close but we were not expecting the Labour and Lib Dem vote to collapse so much.

“They did not canvas the ward and left it open for the Greens who put a lot of effort into it.

“I have a big mortgage to pay off and a young family - I love my allotment and spending time in Castle Park so I will stay busy.”

The Conservatives were tipped to make gains in two Lib Dem strongholds - Stanway and St Anne’s and St John’s.

However, veteran councillors Lesley Scott-Boutell and Helen Chuah both held on to their seats.

Mrs Scott-Boutell ran out a comfortable winner with 1,237 votes compared to Conservative Jeremy Hagon’s 795.

A relieved Mrs Scott-Boutell said: “When you do something you love and you care about it is frightening when you think it might be taken away.

“I am so delighted the people of Stanway have chosen me to represent them.

“It is nice to have the recognition for the work I have done.”

In Shrub End, Lib Dem Sam McCarthy managed to wrestle the seat back off Conservative Vic Flores.

Colchester’s Conservative MP Will Quince blamed the Tories’ results on the Labour vote collapsing and said he was “gutted” to lose Mr Laws and Mr Flores from the council.

There was some comfort for the Tories as they managed to hold on to Mersea and Pyefleet despite a strong challenge from Independent candidate John Akker.

His 969 votes were beaten by Patricia Moore’s 1,026.

Before the count Mr Akker said he had already achieved what he wanted to achieve which was to get people talking about overdevelopment on the island.

He said: “All of the candidates are talking about it now which is bad news for developers.”

Labour had hoped to take its 12th seat on the council by replacing Nick Cope with Elisa Vasquez-Walters.

But the future mayor won a narrow victory, 1,128 votes to 992, to consolidate a successful night for his party although the challenge from Lib Dem Mick Spindler ti Labour stalwart Chris Pearson in Berechurch did not materialise.

The ward’s Tory candidate Carla Hales, who was assaulted in a politically motivated attack whilst campaigning, came third with 604 votes.

In Wivenhoe, 18-year-old candidate Harry Nathan (Lab) came second with 571 votes but the figure was dwarfed by council leader Mark Cory’s 2,131.