Conservatives increase council majority but UKIP take votes
Updated 10:31am Friday 23rd May 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
THE overall make-up of the council may not have changed too much following Thursday’s local election, but the political scene in Swindon may have changed forever.
The Conservatives increased their majority in the council by one and were the party celebrating at the end of the count.
Following the election the Conservatives have 30 seats, Labour have 23 and the Liberal Democrats have four.
However, in a result described as unprecedented, UKIP made huge gains across the town. While not taking any seats, they took votes from all parties and in many wards finished second.
It was a dramatic arrival for the party which had only a fraction of the votes at the last local election in 2012 and mimics the growing popularity of UKIP around the country.
Many seasoned veterans of politics in Swindon, described the sudden emergence of UKIP as unprecedented.
Those most disappointed at the end of the night were the Labour Party. They were hoping to take a number of wards to cut into the Tory majority but in the end it didn’t materialise.
It could have been even worse for Labour after the Liberal Democrats ran them close in the Central ward.
In the end though, the Liberal Democrats had to settle for holding the one seat they were defending in Eastcott.
Elsewhere, there were a number of key battlegrounds which overall led to the Tory victory.
The one real Labour success was they managed to increase their majority by 285 in Old Town, a seat which Nadine Watts won with a margin of just seven last time out.
Another key target for the Labour party was the ward of St Margaret and South Marston but they were unable to kick Tory Peter Lovell out.
The Conservatives also increased their portion of vote in all North Swindon wards, but the Labour Party can take comfort at closing the gap in a number of West Swindon wards.
Traditionally, UKIP have been seen as the party which takes votes from the Conservative Party but yesterday saw them take support from all over.
It has left the party in a very strong position and confident ahead European results night which will take place on Sunday.
Overall turnout across the town has yet to be announced but in many of the wards it was higher than in 2012 despite reports of quiet polling stations throughout the day.
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