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Tories see majority cut in Leicestershire County Council elections

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The Conservatives breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as they clung on to control of County Hall.

However, they were punished in the north of the county, where Labour made a series of gains at their expense.

One of the most high-profile casualties was Charnwood Borough Council leader David Slater. He won Loughborough South by 25 votes in 2009, but this time was soundly beaten by Labour's Robert Sharp.

Councillor Sharp said: "I'm delighted, because the Conservatives fought a very tough campaign here and David is a very big figure locally for the Conservatives."

Sean Sheahan took the Forest and Measham division from Conservative Geraint Jones and in Whitwick his Labour colleague Leon Spence ousted sitting Tory councillor and group chief whip Tony Gillard.

Heather Worman, 20, became one of the youngest county councillors in the country by taking Ibstock and Appleby from the Tories.

North West Leicestershire District Council leader Richard Blunt had vacated that ward for the safe Tory seat of Leicester Forest East and Kirby Muxloe – previously held by former Tory leader David Parsons who did not seek re-election after an expenses scandal last year.

Councillor Worman said she believed Councillor Blunt "didn't dare go out in front of the public here".

She said: "I am delighted people have put their trust in me. I will work very hard for them."

Labour group leader Max Hunt, who was re-elected in Loughborough North West with a 608 majority, said: "We have more than doubled our seats and had a 10 per cent swing from the Conservatives, so we are grateful for the trust of people in the northern part of the county.

"This will tell the Conservatives they can no longer pretend to speak for all the people of Leicestershire."

However, Tory council leader Nick Rushton, who was re-elected to Valley Division with a 457 majority over UKIP, said: "Labour will tell you they have had a good day. They haven't.

"If you combine the total votes of the centre right parties – us and UKIP – it is greater than Labour's."

Former Conservative deputy council leader David Sprason, who had defected to UKIP, held on to the Markfield, Desford and Thornton after a heated and often bitter campaign.

He said: "UKIP are now a force to be reckoned with. We are the new kids on the block and we are here to stay.

"The Tories have run a very personal campaign against me but people saw through it."

Councillor Sprason won by 67 votes after a recount.

UKIP's Lynton Yates took Glenfields from the Tories after councillor Brian Page decided not to seek re-election.

Liberal Democrat leader Simon Galton was re-elected in Launde with a majority of 855.

He praised his team for bucking the national trend and maintaining its position as the official opposition.

Senior Liberal Democrat Phil Knowles just failed to win Market Harborough West and Foxton West from Tory Blake Pain – by 18 votes after a recount.

Coun Galton said: "We shall continue to scrutinise and challenge the administration."

He said he was prepared to work with Labour, but said it was unlikely they could find common ground with the two UKIP members.

Coalville returned to Labour after it was won by ex-BNP member Graham Partner in 2009. Mr Partner polled 215 this time round.

UKIP candidate for Syston Ridgeway, Chris Scotton, was suspended by the party before the election because he had allegedly shown support for the English Defence League on his Facebook page.

He gained 569 votes, coming second to the Tories.

The turnout for the election was 29.6 per cent – down from 43 per cent in 2009.

Councillor Eynon said: "That's a shame because about 70 per cent of people seem to have been turned off by the election entirely.

"We need to look at the reasons for that."

Today, the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour groups were set to hold their annual general meetings to determine leadership roles and responsibilities.

Tories see majority cut in Leicestershire County Council elections


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