THERE were few surprises in Eastleigh as control of the borough remained in the firm grip of the Liberal Democrats.

The party celebrated as it comfortably kept control over the council while snatching a former Conservative “fortress” and winning with vast majorities in most other wards.

Of the 13 seats up for grabs, the Lib Dems secured 12, including former Conservative safe seat Hiltingbury, which Lib Dem Councillor James Duguid won with 50% of the vote.

The only seat the Lib Dems didn’t win was in Bishopstoke which was retained by independent Councillor Raymond Dean by 379 votes.

Lib Dem Councillor for Hedge End South and leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Keith House said: “It is a great result for us. It is our best ever result. We have held all our seats and gained a Conservative seat.

"Our majorities have been pushed up and the turn out is a typical turnout. Gaining Hiltingbury is incredible as it is a Tory fortress. I want to say a big thanks to Eastleigh voters.”

In contrast to the Lib Dems, neither the Conservatives or Labour parties won any seats.

Labour candidate for Hedge End North, Geoff Budd, said: “I think what’s happening nationally has had an effect on a local level. I think that turn out is a massive issue, however, In some wards, we have come in second.

People are fed up with elections generally and unfortunately, local elections get a lower turnout which has cost us but in some areas we have gained.”

Despite no gains in Eastleigh, the Labour Party celebrated success elsewhere as they strengthened their majority in Southampton.

Conservative Party candidate for Hedge End North, James Allen, said: “I think what has been happening nationally has had a bad impact on our results, and the Lib Dems have a strong grip on this area.”

The elections saw the highest turn out of 46% of those eligible to vote in the ward of Hiltingbury and the lowest at 28% in Hedge End North.

In last year’s elections, all 39 councillors were up for election, the Lib Dems won 32 seats to the Conservatives' four, along with three independents.