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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Tories lose Torbay and Plymouth
Labour supporters in Plymouth
Labour supporters in Plymouth celebrate their win

The Conservatives suffered a double blow with the loss of two of their flagship Devon councils in the local elections.

Labour took control of Plymouth City Council from the Tories and now has 36 of the 57 seats on the council. The number of Tory seats fell from 37 to 18.

The Tories also lost control of Torbay to the Liberal Democrats, who overturned the Conservative landslide of 2000 to take 27 of the 36 seats on the council.

Previously, the Lib-Dems had just six seats.

They [voters] wanted to know where the money was going
Tudor Evans,
New Plymouth City Council leader

In Torbay, Lib-Dem councillor Colin Charlwood says the Tories have to rethink their strategies.

He said: "They seem to have lost their way, which is something we seem to be gaining.

"I think we are learning, certainly over the last 10 years. And we are not going to make the same mistakes that they did."

The Labour leader in Plymouth, Tudor Evans, said the electorate had "seen through" the Conservatives.

He said: "They were angered about the way their tax had been blown by the Tories over the last three years.

"They knew that the government had given more money to the city, they knew that the Tories were taking more money in tax than Labour even did.

"They wanted to know where the money was going."

The Tories have put their defeat down to the 15% increase they imposed on council tax.

Conservative group leader Kevin Wigens said: "It's the one single issue that has come up time and time again.

"And understandably, I suppose, the electorate have taken it out on the council that has been responsible for putting that bill through the letterbox.

"They're not really interested in the fact whether it's the government's fault or not."

Labour has lost control of the city council in Exeter. It has been reduced to holding 20 out of the 40 seats and is now a hung council. It previously had 22.

Other results

Liberal Democrats have held onto North Devon District Council, winning 22 of the 43 seats.

However, the Tories doubled the number of their seats from five to 10.

In the Torridge district in north Devon, no party has overall control, with 18 independent councillors taking 36 of the seats.

In the South Hams, the Conservatives have retained control of the district council, keeping its 28 out of 40 councillors which it won in 1999.

The Conservatives have also held onto East Devon with 35 out of 59 seats.

No party has an overall majority on Teignbridge District Council, with 16 seats going to the Liberal Democrats and 14 to the Conservatives out of a total of 46. Labour has no councillors.

Nor does any party have overall control in West Devon, although the Conservatives did gain an extra five seats, up from eight to 12 out of the 31 available.





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