THE leader of the Liberal Democrats in Test Valley has said his party won the "popular vote" at last week's election despite not taking the council. 

The Conservatives maintained their control of Test Valley Borough Council on Thursday with the party now holding 26 seats. 

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats increased their number to 17 councillors. 

The party leader, Neil Gwynne, has said his party won the popular vote after securing 46 per cent of the vote in comparison to the 43 per cent by the Conservatives.

READ MORE: Test Valley elections: Conservatives win majority

He said: "It’s a mix of emotions. Obviously, this is a great result for the party and on any other day, winning five new councillors would feel like a huge step forward.

"Despite the Liberal Democrats winning the popular vote we didn't win the majority of Test Valley Borough Council's seats, which is disappointing."

Across the Romsey and Southampton North constituency, the Lib Dems achieved over 30,000 votes.  

Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Geoff Cooper, said it has been a "fantastic set of results".

"Here, we have won seats from the Conservatives and turned many once secure, safe Tory seats into marginals that we will pick up next time.

"It’s clear that support for the Conservative party is evaporating."