Labour give Tories a bloody nose to win a six seat majority

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Labour took firm control of West Lancashire Council after snatching three crucial seats from the Tories.

The result ended a year of uncertainty after the two main parties were left in limbo at the polls 12 months ago with 27 seats apiece.

Labour now have a workable 30-23 advantage over the Conservatives, with one independent. Cabinet member David Griffiths was the biggest casualty of a swing which punctured the euphoria of the Tories nationally. The portfolio holder for town and village centres was edged out by Labour’s Paul Cotterill by just 53 votes in Bickerstaffe Ward.

Robert Murrin Bailey was ousted in more emphatic style in Knowsley, losing to Nikki Hennessy by almost 400 votes.

The other Conservative loss came in Derby Ward where Coun David Sudworth stood down and his successor Edward McCarthy was beaten into second place by Phil Hudson.

With a turnout of almost 70 per cent, Labour took 46.29 per cent of the vote, with the Tories well behind on 33.74 per cent.

UKIP, who only fielded candidates in 12 of the 18 seats, still managed to attract almost 10 per cent of the poll and force the Conservatives into third place in two wards.

The new independent Our West Lancashire party, set up by former deputy leader Adrian Owens when he quit the Tories in January - a move which handed Labour a brief one seat majority - failed to make any inroads.

The group put up five candidates, but took just 3.44 per cent of the vote.

UpHolland, a seat vacated by County Council cabinet member John Fillis, remained Labour with John Bullock racking up a majority of 723.