THE ruling Conservative group in Southampton were kicked out of power after failing to gain the support of other political groups.

Their controversial budget failed to find favour with Labour and the Lib Dems, and even eleventh hour concessions such as a stay of execution to sport pitches and library hours were not enough.

So after just nine months of power, they find themselves back in opposition as they were for the previous 23 years.

The Tories have 18 seats in the council, as do Labour. The Lib Dems have a further 11 with one independent meaning which ever side is in power it needs to garner the support of one of the other groups.

Labour and the Lib Dems made it clear they were against the plans to provide pensioner households with a 10 per cent discount on their council tax, which excluded those on council tax benefits.

They said the discount would have not have benefited the most needy pensioners and would cost other tax payers the equivalent of 1.6 per cent on their own tax bill.

Instead, the Lib-Lab pact came up with its own budget which did away with £6.1m of savings, but resulted in a tax increase of 3.49 per cent rather than the Tories' 2.99 per cent.

They have also axed Tory plans such as a council tax waiver for special constables, a pioneering sport coaching scheme and plans for £1m of "eco-loans" for environmental home improvements across the city.

The Tories had snubbed a three-way partnership, instead favouring to try and soldier on with their own budget, but in the end Labour and the Lib Dems were able to get their own £173m budget through and kick the Conservatives out of office.

They now face up to two more years in opposition if they cannot regain power in the May local elections as there are no council elections next year.

For the full story, see today's Daily Echo