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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Surprises for Labour in London
More than a quarter of councils in London have changed hands to redraw the political map.
Nine councils are now under the control of a different party, after a night that saw four Tory gains, four losses for Labour and one gain for the Liberal Democrats.
Outside London, Labour regained control of Oxford City Council while Elmbridge in Surrey became only the second authority in England to be controlled by Independents.
In a shock result for Labour, Lambeth is now a hung council with Labour losing seats to the Liberal Democrats.
Labour also lost control of Waltham Forest in north-east London which has become a hung council and the party suffered a defeat in Harrow, where it remains the largest party but without a majority.
Labur gained Bexley which had been a hung council and held on to Hackney, where there was only postal voting, and to Newham which abolished the ballot box in favour of computers.
The Liberal Democrats gained one of their targets, Kingston-upon-Thames which had been a hung council by taking seven seats from Labour.
The Lib Dems held on to Sutton but failed to gain Southwark where they had been targeting Labour seats and where the council is still hung.
Southwark includes Peckham where crime has been a big local issue following the death of Damilola Taylor.
But a mix-up over postal ballots in Southwark meant that even the local MP Simon Hughes was prevented from voting in his own constituency.
"It makes you wonder how many other people might be wrongly turned away when they have turned up to vote.
"It must be a priority for all citizens who want to vote to be able to do so.
"Every person wrongly stopped from voting is a democratic injustice. This is all the more serious when voter turnout is already so low."
There was some good news for the Conservatives. They recaptured Enfield from Labour, the scene of Michael Portillo's humiliation in the 1997 General Election.
In addition they gained Richmond-upon-Thames from the Lib Dems and gained control of Barnet and Redbridge, both of which had been hung councils.
The Conservatives also kept Westminster, Wandsworth, and Kensington and Chelsea, as well as Bromley.
But Labour kept control of Croydon which had been a Tory target.
Steve Norris, the Conservative candidate for London mayor said it was the night the Tories had done reasonably well in the capital.
"I think we won in all the seats where the Liberals failed to put candidates up.
"We are now head to head with Labour in the popular vote in London about 35% to 35%.
"That 's a terrific advance for us but a lot more to do."
Residents in Hackney, in east London, voted in favour of electing a mayor.
Just over 70% of voters backed the move in a referendum to have a directly-elected first citizen.
And two new Labour mayors were elected in Newham and Lewisham - although it took a second count to confirm Steve Bullock in Lewisham and Sir Robin Wales only just got through in the first round in Newham.
Turnout in Greater London was around 30% on average compared with 35% in the country as a whole, despite various experiments with new ways of voting.
Minister for London Nick Raynsford said: "But we must remember that London had a higher turnout that the rest of the country four years ago.
"The rest of the country has improved. London hasn't.
"I am pleased the pilots where we've tried to encourage new ways of voting, including all postal ballots, do appear to have been very successful and the turnout in some places has almost doubled compared to four years ago."
Outside Greater London, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the Conservatives retained control of the borough council with an increased majority, but Labour lost its leader.
Maidstone remains a hung council and in Swale the Conservatives won an overall majority as the Liberal Democrats lost seats.
It is the first time since 1986 that the borough has had an overall majority.
In Hampshire, Havant was the only authority to change hands. After more than a decade of being in no overall control, the Conservatives are now in power.
Counting will resume in Portsmouth later this morning after three unresolved recounts in the Hillsea ward.
Southampton City Council remains hung . Its Conservative group leader Conor Burns lost his seat to the Lib Dems.
In Oxford, Labour regained control of the council once more. The city also voted against having an elected mayor.
Meanwhile there were no surprises in either Cherwell or West Oxfordshire where the Conservatives strengthened their control of the district councils.
The only change to come out of the local elections in Surrey, was the victory of the residents in Elmbridge.
The Independents, who were already the largest group on the council, now have control of the authority.
It becomes only the second borough in the country to be controlled by a group of independents.
Local Election results
After 174 of 174 councils
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