THE Conservatives strengthened their overall majority on Southampton City Council while Labour enjoyed a slight resurgence at the expense of the Liberal Democrats.
Of the 16 seats up for grabs – one in each of the city’s wards – the Tories gained two, Labour gained one and the Lib Dems lost three. There were no wins by any Independents or Greens.
This means the Tories now have 28, Labour 15 and the Lib Dems five seats on the 48- member city council.
After suffering defeat in the General Election the Conservatives’ two wannabe MPs, Councillors Royston Smith and Jeremy Moulton, held onto their local seats.
After losing out to John Denham by just 192 votes in Southampton Itchen, and achieving a 10.3 per cent swing, Cllr Smith insisted it was not a consolation prize and he would now focus on his council job.
He said: “I’m proud to represent the people of Harefield which I have done for the last ten years. I’m a local chap.”
Councillor Moulton, who unsuccessfully fought the Southampton Test constituency, said he was “thrilled” to have the chance to continue representing Freemantle.
Meanwhile Lib Dem veteran and former council leader Adrian Vinson won the seat vacated by party group leader Jill Baston who decided to call it a day after 17 years as a councillor. Cllr Vinson said he was “very pleased” to be back representing Portswood after a two yearabsence when he was voted out of office.
“I have missed being on the council but on the other hand my garden has benefited,” he said.
He refused to be drawn on whether he would become the group’s party leader saying it was up to the Lib Dem group to decide. Fellow Lib Dem Councillor Gerry Drake was narrowly re-elected to his Peartree seat by just 30 votes after his Tory rival Casey Baldwin requested three recounts. Cllr Drake who has served the Peartree ward for 17 years vowed to continue to be a “community politician”.
Labour’s Keith Morrell, a former county councillor in the early 1990s ousted Lib Dem Peter Galton from the Coxford ward. He said: “I will do my best to serve Coxford people.”
At the fourth time of trying Labour’s David Furnell won the previously Lib Dem held Millbrook ward seat.
Southampton’s overall turnout was 59 per cent – higher than the usual 30 per cent recorded in local elections.