Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 09:39 UK

Tories seize power in Southampton

Conservatives in Basingstoke and Deane
The whole of Basingstoke and Deane council was up for election

The Conservatives have regained control of Southampton City Council after being ousted through a Labour-Lib Dem alliance formed earlier this year.

Labour council leader June Bridle lost her seat in Sholing to the Tories.

The gain by the Tories comes after the party gained control in the city last year, for the first time in 23 years, prompting Labour and Lib Dems to act.

They also gained Basingstoke and Deane - the only whole Hampshire council up for election - from no overall control.

The Conservatives took 35 seats in the council, which saw some boundary changes, while the Lib Dems followed with 14 and Labour with nine seats.

We knew the Tories would throw the kitchen sink at us, and they did
Sean Keating
Labour Basingstoke councillor

Two seats went to independent candidates.

Labour group leader Gary Watts lost his seat to the Tories in Basingstoke's South Ham ward, but Labour councillor Sean Keating managed to hold his seat.

He said: "With the 10p tax rate, with the new Labour government, new prime minister, it is a reaction against Labour - and it's reflected in today's polls in Basingstoke.

"And that's not surprising. We knew the Tories would throw the kitchen sink at us, and they did."

Conservative MP for the town, Maria Miller, said: "We really have seen a tremendous momentum and we do work as a team on the ground here in Basingstoke.

"It's great to see colleagues having such success."

There were also significant gains for the Conservatives in Portsmouth.

We lost seats, but my reading of it is that the Liberal Democrat vote collapsed
John Denham, Cabinet minister

Deputy council leader Alex Bentley, for the Lib Dems, lost his seat to the party.

The Tories, who gained eight seats in Southampton, have also retained control of Winchester, Havant, Rushmoor and Fareham while Eastleigh remains under Lib Dem control.

Portsmouth, Gosport and Hart remain under no overall control.

In last year's election in Southampton, the Tories and Labour both won 18 seats, but then Lib Dem councillor Norah Goss split with her party to vote in a Tory administration.

At the budget setting meeting last February, Liberal Democrat and Labour members joined forces, as a result, to oust the Conservatives from power.

Cabinet minister John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, said the Conservative seizure of control of the city was bad news for Labour.

He said Labour now had to show it was listening to the concerns of voters in the south.

"We lost seats, but my reading of it is that the Liberal Democrat vote collapsed, some of our voters stayed at home, we didn't see people switching parties and the Tories got their voters back," Mr Denham told the BBC.

"That's what happens in these local election nights.

"[If] we go from here, show the voters that we have been listening to the things they are genuinely concerned about, show that we can address them here in the south, then we can and will win the next general election."






ENGLAND AND WALES RESULTS
  Councillors Councils
Party +/- Total +/- Total
CON 257 3155 12 65
LAB -334 2365 -9 18
LD 33 1804 1 12
PC 31 205 -1 0
OTH 10 898 0 0
NOC - - -3 64
159 of 159 councils declared.


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SEE ALSO
Tories lose city council control
21 Feb 08 |  Hampshire

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