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Tories take control of Winchester
2:57am Friday 4th May 2012 in Fareham
The party took two seats while the rival Lib Dems lost two, giving the Tories 29 seats.
The Lib Dems were defending 12 of 19 seats and it proved too great a task as they fell to defeat in two wards.
It was a good night for Labour who doubled their tally to two seats snatching control of the ward covering the Winnall and Highcliffe estates.
The Tories now have 29 seats compared to 25 for the Liberal Democrats, two for Labour and one Independent, giving them an overall majority of one.
Before yesterday’s election the Tories and Lib Dems were tied on 27 each, with two Independents and one Labour.
George Beckett, the retiring council leader, said: “I’m very pleased. Locally our support seems to be growing. I’m delighted that having stood on our record the electorate have recognised our achievements. Given the position of our party nationally I’m pleased but not surprised.”
It was looking to be a bad night for the Lib Dems. They were having to defend 12 out of 19 seats and it looked like too great a challenge.
Lib Dem leader Kelsie Learney, also speaking before all the results had been declared, said: “It’s too early to be certain. Let’s wait and see what Boarhunt and Southwick does. We are doing remarkably well in Winchester compared to elsewhere.”
Some of the biggest cheers came when Labour continued its revival. It doubled its tally of councillors from one to two when Janet Berry took St John & All Saints, covering the Winnall and Highcliffe estates, from veteran Liberal Democrat councillor John Higgins.
Labour leader Chris Pines said: “We are absolutely delighted. People on the doorsteps were rejecting both the Tories and Lib Dems. People were grabbing the leaflets out of my hands.
“In the past people voted Lib Dem because they weren’t Tories, then as soon as they went into bed with them in the coalition they realised they didn’t want them. They wanted a local person and Janet has lived and worked in the ward for 25 years.”
Also celebrating was Martin Tod the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate in 2010. He won the St Paul ward polling more votes than Conservative and Labour combined. It was the first time that Mr Tod has won election to public office.
He said: “I’m thrilled.”
The turnout at this year’s elections was unusually low. Normally in Winchester it can touch 60 per cent but yesterday many turnouts were down in the 30 per cents.
Mr Tod said: “People are still felling disillusioned with all parties to a degree. The other factor is that it was tipping with rain. People weren’t coming out. “
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