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banner Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Reporting from Torbay

Jane O'Brien reports from Torbay, where the Tories and Liberal Democrats are battling to take control of the local authority.

Torbay has always been a popular tourist resort - even if its place in the fashion stakes has waned somewhat since its Victorian heyday.

Council history
1988: Con
1990: No Overall Control
1991: Lib Dem
1995: Lib Dem
1997: Lib Dem

On the council, no party holds overall control. The Liberal Democrats are short of that by one seat, holding 18 at present.

The Tories have 13, and the council could remain with no party holding power.

A record blitz on postal voting in the region's nursing homes is likely to boost the turnout among the 95,000 or so voters.

But this is the most marginal Westminster seat in the country and there have been some controversial issues stiring the waters of this English Riviera.

Torbay was one of the first councils to welcome asylum seekers - although they have yet to arrive - despite hostile reaction from hoteliers.

It has also experienced the second highest hike in council tax - 17% last year.

The local football club - Torquay United - painted their dressing rooms pink in the hope of putting off visiting teams.

The Conservatives will be hoping the big colour change on election night will be to blue.

The turnout at the local election in 1996 was 73.0%

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