BASINGSTOKE county council Conservatives have retained their grip on the borough – but last Thursday’s elections saw them lose a seat to the Liberal Democrats and UKIP gain a large chunk of the vote.
Across Hampshire, 78 seats were contested and the ruling Conservative Party remained on top, winning 45.
But UKIP sent shockwaves through Hampshire politics by making huge gains, bagging ten seats on the Winchester-based county authority.
In Basingstoke, UKIP failed to win any seats – but the party’s candidates were runners-up in eight of the 10 divisions in Basingstoke and Deane.
It is a remarkable rise from the last county council election in 2009 when UKIP fielded only one candidate in the borough.
Labour also had cause for celebration, gaining a seat in Basingstoke, with Criss Connor taking Basingstoke Central from the Liberal Democrats.
Labour’s long-serving county councillor Jane Frankum retained Basingstoke North with a clear majority of 55 per cent of the 3,324 votes cast. And two other Labour councillors were also elected in Hampshire – swelling the Labour ranks to four.
Perhaps, the biggest surprise result in the borough saw Liberal Democrat candidate Warwick Lovegrove snatch Tadley and Baughurst from long-serving Conservative councillor Marilyn Tucker – with her putting the loss down to UKIP candidate Stephen West taking a slice of the votes.
“If UKIP had not done its bit, I would have won,” she said. “It’s a shame.”
The final results mean that the borough is represented in Winchester by six Conservatives, two Labour, and two Liberal Democrats.
Conservative councillor Stephen Reid, who was re-elected in Basingstoke North West, said he was delighted with the Tory showing.
He said: “We have held off Labour and UKIP. That’s a respectable performance.”
UKIP candidate Phil Heath said he was disappointed that the party did not take a seat in the borough but said the results show that the party is on the rise.
“It would have been nice to have taken a seat,” he said. “But it was our aim to get a consistent vote.
“It also shows we can take votes in both the town and country. We had votes coming out of ordinary council estates and large country houses.”
However, victorious Calleva and Kingsclere Conservative Cllr Keith Chapman dismissed the rise of UKIP as a protest vote.
“I believe that UKIP is a protest party, and it is difficult in a local election to fight a single issue party,” he said.
“There was nothing in their campaign about education or social services – they were just talking about immigration. It is not good enough. They have got to change if they want to carry on.”
Labour borough group leader Cllr Laura James was happy with the results but disappointed that the party failed to take two target seats – Basingstoke North West and Basingstoke South East.
But Cllr James said the results show a surge of support for Labour in the borough. In Basingstoke’s five town divisions, Labour’s share of the vote increased across the board. In 2009 its average share of the vote was 18 per cent. This has now jumped to 32 per cent.
Cllr James said. “Overall it was a successful night.”
Overall in Hampshire, while the Conservative Party retains its majority with 45 seats, the Liberal Democrats remain the main opposition group with 17, while UKIP are now Hampshire’s third largest party with 10 seats. Labour has four seats, and there is one independent and one Community Campaign (Hart).