Big increase on already-hefty Tory majority

Tony Briggs could not conceal his delight as the Tories tightened their grip on Havant in his first election as leader.

Cllr Briggs saw the already-hefty Conservative majority increase as Labour slipped closer to electoral oblivion in the borough.

And he welcomed the endorsement given to first -time councillor Mike Sceal who stole the Labour stronghold of Warren Park in Leigh Park from long-time councillor Virginia Steele.

It means Labour have just three seats left – the same as the Lib Dems – compared with the Conservative's army of 32 councillors, which is effectively unopposed.

Cllr Briggs said the victory was down to local Tory success and national Labour strife.

'It is a fantastic result in Warren Park. In terms of votes we had the most votes right across the Leigh Park seats and it is tremendous for us.

'I think it sends a clear message to the government of this country it is not what the public wants. It is nothing to do with the 10 pence tax rate, it is a combination of all the policies that this government imposes, in terms of local government support grant and insufficient grant for the national bus scheme.

'If you look at our record over the last five years we have saved 2m, increased the quality of our services and we have brought inward investment into the town and will continue to bring that investment.'

Havant Conservative MP David Willetts was there to congratulate the party, particularly Cllr Sceal who won the fifth most deprived borough in the south east.

He said: 'We have put in a lot of work over the years and I think this proves that we want to serve every part of the borough and people see that we can work hard for Leigh Park.

'I have been canvassing in Botley Drive and it was fantastic, we got a great reception. There are a lot of people in Leigh Park who like the Conservative message.'

Former Conservative leader David Gillett took a back seat at the celebrations at the Civic Offices leaving Cllr Briggs to bask in yet another successful year.

And Liberal Democrat Battins ward councillor Faith Ponsonby enjoyed a glass of wine as she celebrated retaining her seat. The group now have three seats.