IT was business as usual as the Liberal Democrats maintained their vice-like grip on Eastleigh Borough Council.

All eyes were on whether the party could maintain its huge majority with 15 of the authority's seats up for grabs.

But in the endthey strengthen their stronghold.

The Lib Dems picked up gains in the Eastleigh Central and South wards - the seats that were previously held by members of the Independent Party of Eastleigh Councillors neither of whom were standing for re- election.

Conservative leader Godfrey Olsen romped home to retain his seat in Hiltingbury East.

But there was disappointment for Labour's Pete Luffman who lost out to Lib Dem rival Darshan Singh Mann in Eastleigh South by just 13 votes.

He said: "I'm disappointed to have lost after two recounts. I suppose it is now about going away and working out what went wrong.

"The Labour Party has a full set of candidates for the next election."

Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne arrived at the Fleming Park Leisure Centre count at around 11.30pm with partner Catrina Trimingham.

Throughout the day, a steady stream of voters had made their way to polling stations around the borough with seats being contested in Eastleigh, Hiltingbury, Fair Oak, Hamble, Bishopstoke, Chandler's Ford, Hedge End, Bursledon, Botley and Netley Abbey.

Around a hundred people helped count up the voting slips as nervous candidates waited for the results.

Lib Dem leader Keith House said: "We are delighted. We work ward by ward all year round and never take it for granted. We ask the electorate to say what they think and the fact that they are prepared to re-elect us in increasingly large numbers is fantastic.

Overall the Liberal Democrats took 13 of the 15 seats available, with the Conservatives taking one.

It now means they hold 40 of the 44 council seats.