Local elections: Portsmouth Tories lose seats, Lib Dems tighten grip and Portsmouth Independents Party doubles numbers

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The Conservatives suffered a significant defeat in Thursday's Portsmouth City Council elections, leaving the Lib Dems as the largest group but still lacking an overall majority.

The national trend of the party being punished continued in the city with five of the six seats it was defending being lost.

Most of these defeats were at the hands of a surging Portsmouth Independents' Party which doubled its total number of councillors to six, leaving it at a similar standing to both the Conservatives and Labour.

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Jubilation at Portsmouth's election count at the Guildhall Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-3199)Jubilation at Portsmouth's election count at the Guildhall Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-3199)
Jubilation at Portsmouth's election count at the Guildhall Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-3199)

Reflecting on the defeat, Councillor Simon Bosher, the leader of the city council's Conservative group, said he hoped the parliamentary Conservative Party 'reflected on and learned from' the loss.

'We've lost a number of very talented councillors because of their mess,' he said. 'We will dust ourselves down and go again but ultimately we were punished for what's happening nationally - not our track record in Portsmouth.'

Councillor George Madgwick, the leader of the Portsmouth Independents Party, said the results showed people wanted to be represented locally by people not influenced by national politics.

Portsmouth Independents Party's Emily Strudwick who was elected in Hilsea 
Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-7765)Portsmouth Independents Party's Emily Strudwick who was elected in Hilsea 
Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-7765)
Portsmouth Independents Party's Emily Strudwick who was elected in Hilsea Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-7765)

'Our message was very simple and people have supported it,' he said.

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The Lib Dem group now has more than twice the number of councillors of any group with 18 but still fell short of securing a majority, despite winning Eastney & Craneswater from the Conservatives.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the group's leader and the leader of the city council, said the result was a 'mandate from the people of Portsmouth' for the work the council is doing in the city.

Liberal Democrats celebrate gaining a seat and remaining the largest party Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-3262)Liberal Democrats celebrate gaining a seat and remaining the largest party Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-3262)
Liberal Democrats celebrate gaining a seat and remaining the largest party Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-3262)

'The result today has been resounding,' he said. 'We have been told that they want us to continue the work we have been doing and that's what we will do.'

He said his group was willing to continue working with the Portsmouth Independents Party, as it has done in a number of areas over the past year.

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The Labour Party also saw success, winning Cosham from the Conservatives, although it failed to reclaim the seat in Charles Dickens it lost when former leader Cal Corkery was expelled from the party earlier this year. Cllr Corkery was re-elected as an independent with a majority of 130.

Labour's leader on the city council, councillor Charlotte Gerada, said it had been a 'positive' campaign and said the result reflected a 'collapse' in the Tory vote with people flocking to support Labour.

Labour's Graham Heaney who was re-elected to represent St Jude ward Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-7804)Labour's Graham Heaney who was re-elected to represent St Jude ward Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-7804)
Labour's Graham Heaney who was re-elected to represent St Jude ward Picture: Sarah Standing (040523-7804)

Cllr Corkery said his re-election following his 'unfair and unjust' expulsion was a 'privilege'.

Turnout was significantly down in many areas with political figures from all parties blaming new voter ID rules, as well as apathy within the electorate.

Following the election, the make-up of the council is: 18 Lib Dems, eight Conservatives, seven Labour, six Portsmouth Independents' Party and three independents.