Gosport Tories take power

A map from the planning application

Fears grow that housebuilders may pounce on land while Fareham council draws up planning rules

Despite losing seats to the Lib Dems, the leaders of Gosport's Conservative party are to take power of the borough council.

Lib Dems gained five seats while Labour lost four and the Tories lost one.

But the Tories are still the biggest party and will take power.

Today the make-up of the council stood at 16 Conservative members, four Labour and 14 Lib Dems.

Before last night the council was already hung – with 17 Conservatives, eight Labour and nine Lib Dems.

Although the Tories have more councillors than any other party, last year they refused to take control of the council because the deciding vote on issues fell to the mayor, Keith Gill.

The Lib Dems, who have been supporting the Labour administration running the council, said it was up to the Tories as the biggest party whether or not to take control of the authority.

Tory Leader Cllr Mark Hook said they would take control.

'We are willing, as the biggest group, to accept the responsibility of running the council,' he said.

'We stood down because Lib Dem and Labour formed a pact and kept voting against us, but if they say that coalition no longer exists, we will accept the responsibility.'

He added: 'We are delighted we held 10 out of 17 seats. We knew it was going to be difficult defending that many seats.'

Lib Dem leader Cllr Smith said: 'There isn't a coalition - there was never any coalition between us and Labour, but if something was for the benefit of the borough then we did vote together.'

Meanwhile Labour was licking its wounds last night – the party lost Rowner and Holbrook as well as Bridgemary North and Bridgemary South to the Conservatives, and Forton to the Liberal Democrats.

Labour leader Shaun Cully refused to comment on the loss – as did outgoing Rowner and Holbrook candidate John Train.

Former Gosport Borough Labour councillor Martyn Davis said: 'It's disappointing. There's a national swing and there's nothing we can do about that.

'The Labour party locally has worked very hard and they've been very effective in managing the council in difficult circumstances.'