Gallery: UKIP gains first county seats in Essex as Conservatives lose out
- Credit: Archant
THE UK Independence Party took its first ever seats on Essex County Council after voters sent a message to the ruling Conservatives last night.
Voting closed at 10pm on Thursday and officers counted into the early hours to deliver the historic news.
With all 75 seats on the council now declared, the anti-EU party has gained nine seats in a night that saw the number of Conservative seats reduced from 59 to 42 – a fall of 29%.
There were also substantial gains for Labour, which increased its seats from two to nine while the Liberal Democrats lost two seats to end up with nine.
The Green Party also gained its first two seats with victories in elections for the Witham Northern and Rochford South divisions.
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But it was a night for UKIP, which won seats in Brightlingsea, Bocking and Tendring Rural, as well as East Basildon Westley Heights, Rayleigh South, South Benfleet and Thundersley.
In Colchester UKIP also made ground in its first ever election.
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Chairman of UKIP Colchester, Ron Levy, said: “This evening UKIP Colchester made political history, coming in the first three positions in all six County Divisions, gaining four second places and two third places.
“This far exceeded our expectations and caused the Lib Dems the worst electoral night for many years.
“We are now ready to prepare for next year’s Borough elections when we expect to win seats.”
Deputy leader of the Colchester Lib Dems, Theresa Higgins, who was re-elected to her seat for the Parsons Heath and East Gates division in the town, described the gains for UKIP as “protest votes”.
She said: “I’m amazed at how many seats UKIP got considering they didn’t put out any literature.
“It’s a protest vote by the people of the town. I don’t necessarily think people believe in their policies - it’s more a case that they think the other parties are all the same.
She added: “It obviously means we have to think about how we come across to the electorate but we haven’t got as much work to do as the Conservatives who came fourth in the vote for the Maypole division in Colchester.”
Of the 1 million potential voters across the county there was a 27.6% turnout.