Compared to the rest of the country, the 2019 local elections in Braintree appeared to be relatively routine.

Yes the Conservatives lost five seats, but they still boast a healthy majority and their grip on the council was never really under-threat throughout election night.

The national narrative saw the Tories and Labour suffer a Brexit-induced backlash as voters either stayed at home, or turned to the Greens, residents associations or independents.

Though on a smaller scale, this was to some extent true in the Braintree district with Independents Tom Walsh and Nick Unsworth ousting the Conservatives from Coggeshall.

The Tories were also removed entirely from the two Halstead wards, having previously held two of the four seats.

Perhaps the biggest story from Thursday night though was the success of the Green Party, which took the two seats on offer in the Silver End and Cressing, Witham North, and Kelvedon and Feering wards respectively.

While some may see this as a protest vote against the main parties, the question for James Abbott and Co will be how can they not only retain support, but even build on it?

The Greens represent the largely rural south eastern wards in the Braintree district where there has been some discontent among the electorate at the Conservatives’ failure to deliver a Local Plan.

The challenge for them is to look to other rural areas where this feeling of discontent is present, such as The Colnes, Hatfield Peverel and Terling, Gosfield and Greenstead Green, and Hedingham to see if they can whip up greater support and provide a serious threat to Conservative dominance.

The Tories will hope to finalise a local plan by the 2023 elections, but should that fail to materialise, the Greens and Independents could well find themselves a preferred option if they choose to target seats elsewhere.

In the meantime, the party will likely offer a louder opposition voice on the council - something the Tories themselves admit has been lacking for some time.

Though the relatively small opposition will not be able stop Conservative policies being implemented, the six Green councillors and two Independents in the alliance are unlikely to go down quietly.

The key for them moving forward will be to put forward their own ideas, rather than critique proposals and motions. Speaking on election night, Tory chief Graham Butland correctly pointed out a responsible opposition needs to have its own suggestions and alternatives if it is to help keep democracy healthy.

Very little will change on the surface of local politics in our district, with the Tories set to press ahead with their vision for housing, employment and the economy.

However, the surge in support for the Greens has not gone unnoticed.

And while Braintree very much remains a Tory stronghold, there are very early signs that the electorate is willing to hear from a slightly different voice to that of the traditional political parties.