They have 34 seats, Labour have 25, the Lib Dems have four and 19 seats went to Independents.
The results means no political party has overall control.
Council leader Rachel Bailey has blamed the ‘impasse of Brexit’ after the Conservatives lost overall control of the authority in a huge shock. It could have been even worse for the Conservatives but leader Cllr Bailey survived a scare to hold onto her Audlem seat, beating Liberal Democrat Richard Derricutt by just 78 votes.
Commenting on the elections results, Cllr Bailey says she has no doubt that national issues surrounding Brexit played a massive role at the ballot box.
She said “I am very sad because the Conservative group has worked very hard to bring forward excellent service delivery. We have had a balanced budget in a very difficult fiscal time and we brought massive investment to Cheshire East in terms of infrastructure. Looking at the leaflets and our messaging about the campaign, it made me feel really proud about the achievements that have been made. We find ourselves in Cheshire East in the same place as many authorities that have been out for election – that, actually, there is a swing to the independents.
Cllr Bailey added: “The electorate absolutely expressed their disappointment with the impasse of Brexit with the two main parties. This is a very different outcome in an election than you would normally see, in ordinary times it is usually the two main parties that hold swathe one way or another. Here we are seeing that return to the Liberal Democrats, as they have established themselves following their tough round four years ago, and that focus on independents.”
Cllr Bailey has pledged to do all she can to deliver for residents in the future. She said: “Those of us elected in the Conservative group will absolutely continue to focus on delivering for the residents of Cheshire East. That has to be our focus. We are local councillors and we have that local focus. We have achieved much and we will continue to strive to do that.”
After holding onto her seat despite a scare, she defended her decision to campaign in other areas – rather than in Audlem.
She added: “So many people haven’t turned out to vote and, equally, I haven’t campaigned in the Audlem ward, my residents have not had their Conservative candidate on their doorstep explaining that we are a local council and we don’t deal with Brexit.
“I felt, as leader of the Conservative group, my role was absolutely to go out and support candidates in other areas because if we look at the council as a whole, as of now we have 22 new councillors, so it is only right and proper when you have gone through the journey that you support those that are coming forward for the first time and that is what I have endeavoured to do," she said.