Tories Lose Majority In Oxfordshire Election
3 May 2013, 15:22
The Conservatives have been dealt a blow in Oxfordshire, losing outright control of the county council.
The Tories, taking 34% of the vote, fell one short of the 32 seats needed to maintain control of the authority, which they have held since 2005.
Labour finished with 15 seats - including one in Tory heartland, within Prime Minister David Cameron's constituency - while the Liberal Democrats took 11.
Both secured 16% of the vote - alongside Ukip, who failed to win a single seat. Despite that, senior Tories said Nigel Farage's party played a key role in taking Conservative votes.
Rodney Rose, deputy leader under the outgoing administration, described the result as "disappointing''. He said: "We came into this wanting 35 or 36 seats and outright control.
"We have fallen slightly short of that, so we're disappointed. We will now look to see if we can form a coalition with another party.
Technically, the other 32 councillors could form their own.'' Ian Hudspeth, who became council leader last year, clung on to his seat of Woodstock.
He agreed that Ukip had a huge influence on the result. "I think the lesson here is what the Ukip vote has done to everybody else's vote,'' he said.
"They were an 'unknown'. It's clear they have taken away votes from Conservatives, which means pro-EU parties like Labour and the Lib Dems have got in for some seats.
"On the campaign trail - and I went to over 20 divisions - people said they weren't going to be voting for Ukip. Obviously they have. Maybe when they came to the vote they thought they would send a message to the Conservatives.''
Ian Macdonald, who came second for Ukip in Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst, said the elections would be considered a success for his party. The 22-year-old said:
"What we have shown is that people want an alternative. Labour and the Conservatives are pretty similar, and I think people wanted something different.''
Asked if he expected the party to do well in Oxfordshire, he said: "It's a university city and I think most students tend to vote left-wing.''
Labour's Laura Price, a 33-year-old mother-of-one, said her election represented a blow to "Conservative complacency'' in the Prime Minister's constituency.
Ms Price said: "For too long Conservatives have thought their name alone will get them the seat. But I have been going and speaking to people about the things that matter to them - potholes, for example.
"I think people want a change from what they've had, a change from the complacency. Has it been difficult as a Labour candidate in David Cameron's constituency? Not really. If you've confidence in what you're doing, you feel empowered.''
Recent constituency border changes have reduced the number of seats on the council from 74 to 63, meaning 32 seats were needed to secure a majority.
The Tories have led the authority since 2005. A council spokesman said the turnout was 31.87%, the lowest since the turn of the millennium.
However, he said previous turnouts may have been boosted by having general elections and European Parliament elections on the same day.