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EDITIONS
Friday, 3 May, 2002, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Bristol City Council leader unseated
Bristol
Bristol: Labour has clung on to power
The biggest election night casualty in the South-West was the Labour leader of Bristol City Council who was defeated by the Lib Dems, reducing the party's majority to just two.

George Micklewright's seat was one of three lost to the Lib Dems.

In Cheltenham, the Lib Dems defeated the Conservatives while in Plymouth it was a clean sweep for Labour.

Labour's majority in Exeter remained solid while Independents hold the balance of power in Penwith Council in Cornwall.
George Micklewright
Mr Micklewright has been a councillor for 23 years

It was a night of celebration for Bristol's Liberal Democrats but for Labour leader George Micklewright it spelt the end of 23 years as a councillor, five of which he spent as leader.

The result was not even close - he lost by more than 400 votes.

Mr Micklewright said that the new councillor, Lib Dem Ann Cooper, would have a hard job pleasing the electorate.

He blamed his lost seat on an increased turnout of people who do not usually vote.

"I can see what has happened, my vote has been knocked down enormously.

"The Liberals have brought out people who do not usually vote in Filwood and pushed up the turnout by four percentage points."

Labour councillors were further shocked when Celia Lukins, a member of the council's ruling cabinet, narrowly lost the safe seat of Avonmouth to Conservative Spud Murphy.

Turnout in Bristol as a whole was 35%.

Tory come-back

Less than one in three people voted in Gloucestershire but that was enough to re-draw the political map there.

The Conservatives replaced Labour as the largest group on Gloucester City Council.

In Stroud, the Conservatives regained control after several years in the political wilderness.

But there is still work to be done before they can form an administartion.

Among Labour's high profile casualties was two-time Mayor Terry Haines.

The Liberal Democrats had success in Cheltenham, where they wiped out the Tory majority to take control.

E-vote successful

Although the political make-up did not change in Swindon, the majority Labour party looks likely to take control again after resigning from the leadership last year.

Labour has 29 of the seats on the borough council, the Conservatives have 22, and the Lib Dems have 8.

More than 4,000 Swindon constituents chose their candidate via the internet, with 2000 voting by phone.

Officials in the town said the new methods upped the turnout by 4%.

The system could now be adopted elsewhere.

In the South-West, only three district councils, which elect by thirds - Penwith, Exeter and Weymouth and Portland - went to the polls.

High postal turnout

Independents remain the largest party on Penwith Council in Cornwall

But the Liberal Democrats won Penzance west from the Conservatives, while the Conservatives picked up St Just from the Independents.


Here we have something like just 33.3% of voters going to the polls and that is really the knub of the problem

Derek Carr, Conservative
It emerged at the count in Penzance that the turnout for Penwith had risen to more than 40% - 9% up on previous polls.

Postal voting forms were sent to all voters so people didn't have to go to polling stations

Council officials said this and the controversy over the West Cornwall hospital and a new postal voting system encouraged greater interest.

In one seat, Perranuthnoe, the turnout topped 50 %.

Labour triumphs

The elections leave the make-up of Exeter City Council the same as before with Labour on 22 seats, the Liberal Democrats holding eight, Conservatives with six and Liberals with four.>

The closest fought battle was in the Polsloe ward where, after a recount, sitting Conservative Yolonda Henson was returned with a majority of 36.

Over four times as many people voted by postal vote in this election, but voter apathy was a concern to Conservative leader Derek Carr.

"Here we have something like just 33.3% of voters going to the polls and that is really the knub of the problem."

In Plymouth's by-elections Labour gained a seat from the Conservatives and held the two other seats available in Mount Gould and St Budeaux.


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