ELECTION 2015: Conservative delight at West Norfolk council gains, as UKIP are the big losers

The political map of West Norfolk turned a deeper shade of blue after the Conservatives increased their majority on the borough council.

Both UKIP and Liberal Democrat representation in the council chamber was wiped out as the Tories finished with 50 seats, up 10 on the old council, following Thursday’s polls.

Local Goverment Election for King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.'Some of the winning Conservative group celebrate victory, with Nick Daubney (centre) and Henry Bellingham MP (left) ANL-150905-084118009

Local Goverment Election for King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.'Some of the winning Conservative group celebrate victory, with Nick Daubney (centre) and Henry Bellingham MP (left) ANL-150905-084118009

Labour now have 10 councillors, down two from the last elections in 2011, while the other two members are independents, retaining the seats they won four years ago.

Council leader Nick Daubney said his party’s success was “very pleasing”, though he admitted they still face significant challenges.

He said: “We’ve still got to make financial savings, operate the council within sensible budgets, contain our costs. We’ve got a lot of regeneration activity going on.

“That needs to be driven forward because we need those jobs, we need the infrastructure and we need the industry in this area.”

Local Goverment Election for King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.'Labour winners, LtoR, Charles Joyce and Gary McGuinness ANL-150905-084143009

Local Goverment Election for King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.'Labour winners, LtoR, Charles Joyce and Gary McGuinness ANL-150905-084143009

Labour group leader John Collop said his party’s vote held up well following a disappointing general election result nationally.

He said: “It’s an interesting situation. We’ll put forward things as we always do and hopefully now and again somebody will listen to us.”

Independents Richard Bird and Mike Tilbury retained their seats in the Hunstanton and Valley Hill wards.

The Liberal Democrats lost their two seats, although one of their former councillors, Tony Bubb, retained his Dersingham seat for the Tories.

The Tories also took the other old Liberal Democrat seat of Springwood, previously held by John Loveless.

But the biggest losers of the day were UKIP, who lost all six of their seats on the old council.

Ashley Collins, the only UKIP member who had previously won his seat, in a 2012 by-election, was defeated in Watlington by Tory candidate Peter Hodson.

And there was particular glee in Conservative ranks when their candidates, Baljinder Anota and Peter Gidney, unseated UKIP group leader Paul Foster, who was one of four former Tories who joined the party last year, and June Leamon in West Winch.

Mr Foster, who did not attend the count because of illness, was the only one of UKIP’s ex-Conservative councillors who was seeking re-election.

And he claimed people voted for the Conservatives both nationally and locally without considering the different issues in the two elections.

But he added: “In the areas where UKIP has come second, we have an excellent base to build local candidates and that’s what you need to be trusted nationally.”

Meanwhile, the Green Party failed to repeat its success of winning a council seat from four years ago.

But Michael de Whalley, who was beaten into second place by Conservative Susan Fraser in the Grimston ward, said he was encouraged by the party’s performance.

He said: “Locally, we have a strong, vibrant and committed party, which wasn’t really there before the election, so we’ve got a legacy to go on with.”

The most dramatic result came in South and West Lynn where Labour’s Gary McGuinness retained his seat by just three votes.

The new council will meet for the first time on May 21, when the borough’s mayor for the forthcoming civic year will be chosen.