AN electoral map of south west England – at least in local authority terms – shows some unfamiliar splashes of yellow surrounding Swindon.

Vale of the White Horse and, in a minor sensation, Cotswold District Council – both bordering Swindon borough – fell to the Liberal Democrats, as did Bath & North East Somerset a few miles down the A4.

But Swindon stayed stubbornly blue. Not only did the main Labour opposition have a disappointing night, but so did the Liberal Democrats while their party colleagues just over the borders were cock-a-hoop.

Stan Pajak is the leader of the small group of two councillors from the party on Swindon Borough Council.

Reflecting on the election, he said: “I was surprised at how it went. I thought that Labour would actually make a few gains and make the council a lot more interesting but they didn’t manage to make any inroads, and neither did we.

“Brexit had a major impact on this election, as everyone has said, and it didn’t do either the Conservatives or Labour much good.

“But Swindon wasn’t consistent with the rest of the county. I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s quite a polarised town between Conservative and Labour.

“Perhaps people see that we’ve only got two seats on the council and think that we’re not the natural place to put their vote. Still, we will carry on”

Going into the election the party put up eight candidates in 19 wards and targeted two in particular, Eastcott and Wroughton & Wichelstowe. Eastcott is Coun Pajak’s own ward, and the other was won by his colleague Andy Spry in something of a surprise last year.

It worked – to a degree. In Eastcott the party’s Toby Robson was a good second to Labour’s Paul Dixon. In Wroughton and Wichelstowe, Jamie Taylor was the only candidate to challenge Conservative Cathy Martyn.

It sums up the party’s predicament – squeezed between the two main parties in a system designed for a straight fight.

As well as reforming the electoral system, Coun Pajak would also like to change the ways the council works in order to diminish the control held by whichever party is in power.

He said: “If we had the committee system then more councillors would be involved than just the rule by the seven or eight councillors we have in the cabinet system. That’s one of the disappointments of the election, that no doubt we will continue with the pantomime of meetings where the cabinet just gets its way.”

Coun Pajak is also in favour of moving away from the system which sees an election three years in every four.

He said: “If we changed that then I think there’s more considered administration

“There are lot of areas where councillors can work across parties and co-operate. We all want the best for Swindon, and to improve and regenerate the town centre.

“If you look at Bath and Gloucester it seems that we’re falling behind, and we mustn’t let that happen. A better Swindon is something we can can all work towards.”