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Joint administration stays put
IT WAS expected to be a close-fought battle - but when all the votes were in and counted it was a case of "as you were" in Basingstoke and Deane.
The Conservative group fought a high-profile campaign and had high hopes of grabbing power from the joint Liberal Democrat-Labour administration.
But the Tories failed to improve on their 25 seats - leaving the two-party partnership in the driving seat.
Four sitting councillors were ousted by voters, including Labour member for Winklebury Gary Watts who hit the headlines earlier this year when the mayor, Cllr Rose Wellman, tried to have him thrown out of the council chamber for insulting her. He later apologised for calling her "incompetent".
The others who lost their seats were Carl Reader (Labour), Pam Lonie (Labour) and Robert Musson (Conservative).
After the count, Mr Watts, who had been a councillor for seven years, said: "I expect to stand again in the future. I put my loss down to the fact that my name begins with W so I am at the bottom of the ballot paper.
"People get confused about the number of votes they have - there were a lot of single votes only on the ballot papers for Winklebury.
"I am pleased that we have still got two Labour seats in Winklebury. I don't think my losing had anything to do with my little incident with the mayor."
Both sitting independent councillors were re-elected and their numbers have been boosted by a new independent member for Overton, Laverstoke and Steventon, Ian Tilbury.
Mr Tilbury, a 43-year-old engineer who is already a parish councillor, said: "I am really looking forward to sitting on the council. It is time for a change. The Liberal Democrats have run it for the last 15 years. With three independents now, we could have quite a voice. It will be very interesting."
Veteran Chineham independent Martin Biermann - a green campaigner - said: "We have increased the number of independents on the council by 50 per cent tonight. I say the more the better.
"In Chineham, the election was a very nail-biting affair because of the complexities of the vote. I knew that after voting for me, many of my supporters would vote Conservative in their second and third votes. That could have been enough to lose it for me even though they voted for me first. So I told them to vote tactically - and only use one of their votes. It took me some time to convince them of it but they agreed in the end and it worked.
"In the end I coined the slogan: 'Use your vote - but only one vote', and they did."
Independent councillor David Leeks retained his seat in the new split ward of Tadley South. After the result was announced, he said: "I am over the moon. The ward has a third less voters than before but I still polled more than 900 votes, the same as last time. I am gobsmacked. I thank the people of Tadley for having confidence in me again."
The Liberal Democrats had a resounding success in Eastrop where two Lib-Dems, Graham Parker and Erica Shaw, took the two seats that had previously been held by Labour and Conservative councillors.
Deputy leader Rob Donnelly congratulated the Lib-Dems on their Eastrop success.
"I think the Eastrop result is a stunning outcome for the Lib-Dems," he said.
He added: "Both sides of the joint administration have held their own or done better. I think the Conservatives fought a very negative campaign - and that clearly doesn't win votes.
"The majority of voters have felt that this joint administration has worked very well for the last seven years and should continue. And I think that is good for Basingstoke."