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Ashford Borough Council local elections see Conservatives keep control but with reduced majority

The Conservatives have kept control of Ashford Borough Council - but lost some big names in the process as the other parties enjoyed good gains.

Former cabinet member and portfolio holder for the town centre Cllr Graham Galpin was one of the long-standing Tories to lose out, agonisingly missing out on his seat in the Furley ward by one vote to Labour's Euan Anckorn.

The Conservatives - who won 33 of 43 seats in the last election in 2015 - took 26 from 47 today, with the Ashford Independents taking their tally from three councillors to 11.

Graham Galpin looks on as the Furley vote is counted. Picture: Paul Amos
Graham Galpin looks on as the Furley vote is counted. Picture: Paul Amos

Labour's total also increased - from three to seven - but the Lib Dems will have no representatives on the council at all, despite putting up 15 candidates.

The Green Party took its first-ever win in the borough in the Willesborough ward, while the only Independent candidate - Kate Walder - beat Tory Mike Bennett in the Rolvenden and Tenterden West ward.

Ukip put forward eight names across the borough but failed to win a seat.

Proud dad David Ward with son Cllr Alexander Ward (Labour). Picture: Paul Amos
Proud dad David Ward with son Cllr Alexander Ward (Labour). Picture: Paul Amos

Due to its rapid population growth, Ashford was the only district in Kent where councillor numbers increased, rising from 43 to 47.

The Tories had a six-seat head-start due to uncontested seats, taking a lead over their rivals before the count had even begun.

But their day started badly when the first result came in, with Labour candidate Diccon Spain taking the Bockhanger ward from Tory Simon Howard-Smith.

Council leader Gerry Clarkson won his seat in Charing. Picture: Paul Amos
Council leader Gerry Clarkson won his seat in Charing. Picture: Paul Amos

Ashford Labour leader Brendan Chilton defeated former Tory cabinet member Brad Bradford in the Stanhope ward - which had the lowest turnout in this year's election, with only 20% of residents voting.

In the Bybrook ward, Ashford Independent Howard Turner took victory, beating Tory Shafi Khan and Labour's Alan Dean.

It was a historic day for the Green Party, which scored its first ever win in Ashford.

A disappointed Mike Bennett (left) after losing his seat. Picture: Paul Amos
A disappointed Mike Bennett (left) after losing his seat. Picture: Paul Amos
The Green Party was in celebratory mood. Picture: Georgia Woolf
The Green Party was in celebratory mood. Picture: Georgia Woolf
Noel Ovenden won comfortably for the Ashford Independents. Picture: Paul Amos
Noel Ovenden won comfortably for the Ashford Independents. Picture: Paul Amos

Liz Wright and Steve Campkin took the two seats in the Willesborough ward, which was the last to be announced.

FINAL RESULTS:

Conservative: 26

Ashford Independent: 11

Labour: 7

Green: 2

Independent: 1

Ukip: 0

Liberal Democrats: 0

To catch up with the results as they came in, visit our live blog.

For reaction, pick up next week's Kentish Express, out Thursday

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