Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 14:45 UK

Tories gain 'weathervane' council

John Campion
Wyre Forest leader John Campion said it had been an excellent night

The Conservatives have gained control of Redditch Borough Council after winning four new seats.

Labour lost four seats on the council, which had been under no overall control since 2006 and has traditionally been held by the party.

The Tories also took four seats to win Wyre Forest District Council.

The authority had been under no overall control since 2003, mainly because a large number of independent candidates helped split the vote.

The BBC West Midlands political editor Patrick Burns said the Redditch result would send a warning to Labour's top brass.

Political mood

The town has not been run by the Conservatives since 1983 and is the constituency of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

He said it was a "weathervane area" which reflected the political mood of the national electorate and the result would have a big influence on the national Labour strategists.

Patrick Burns describes the importance of the Redditch result

Nine seats were up for election in Redditch. The Conservatives won six, Labour two and the Liberal Democrats one.

It means the Tories now have a total of 15 seats, Labour 10, the Lib Dems three and the British National Party (BNP) one.

At Wyre Forest a third of the seats had been up for election.

The new authority is made up of a total of 22 Tory councillors, 10 independents standing for Health Concern, six Liberals, two Labour and two Liberal Democrats.

The Labour group lost one seat, as did the Liberals, while two independent seats also went. They were all taken by the Conservatives.

'Anti-government feelings'

Council leader John Campion said: "We've been given a ringing endorsement from the residents of the Wyre Forest on how we've been running the council as a minority for the past four years."

Labour leader Mike Kelly said his group had been affected by anti-government feelings.

He said: "We've been caught up in the tide of anti-government feelings and we have to live with that. But it will turn."

Worcester City Council remains a hung council despite the Tories only needing one gain to take overall control.

The Tories had held the council since 2003, but lost a seat to Labour in a by-election last year following the controversial introduction of a new rubbish collection scheme.

That meant no one group had overall control of the authority.

The Tory group, which has a total of 17 seats, is now still one seat short of taking control.

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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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