WEYMOUTH and Portland has its first UKIP councillor after a local election that saw Labour become the largest party.
Although Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is still a hung council, with no party taking overall control, Labour now have 15 seats, while the Conservatives have 11, Liberal Democrats have 7, Independents 2 and UKIP 1.
Labour gained two seats from the Conservatives and one from an Independent.
Francis Drake became the first ever UKIP borough councillor in Melcombe Regis - borough mayor and Liberal Democrat councillor Ray Banham was pushed into fourth place behind the Conservative and Labour candidates.
A spokesman for the borough council said: “Mr Banham will remain as borough mayor until the official handover to incoming mayor Kate Wheller at the mayor-making ceremony next Thursday.”
Voters went to the polls on Thursday to cast their votes in both the local and European elections.
A third of the council seats were up for grabs and six long-standing councillors stood down, they were: Conservatives Kevin Hodder, Dominic Lonsdale, Ian James, Ian Munro-Price and Robert Dunster and Independent candidate Geoff Petherick.
Council staff were up verifying the count until 12.30am after polls closed on Thursday evening and they were back in at 9.30am for the official count.
Overall the turnout was 36.8 percent across the borough, with the highest turn out in Preston at 55.46 percent and the lowest turnout in Melcombe Regis at 27.54 percent.
The council could now see a new chairman of the management committee as Labour have the largest number of councillors. The new members of the committees and head of management committee will be decided at the June meeting.
Labour gained two seats from Conservatives and one from an Independent. Speaking about the new council make-up, councillor Sandra West said she was absolutely delighted.
She said: "We want to take the council forward now and work for the people of the borough."
Ray Nowak said they would be working for people across the whole of the borough to 'improve the quality of life.'
Conservative councillor Ian Bruce said they were expecting with six seats up for grabs that they could have lost five to the Labour party.
He added: "The usual horse trading will go on but generally all the groups will work out a solution that means we can run the council for the benefit of all our electors."
SIX new faces will be joining the new-look borough council – including some younger people.
Labour candidate Craig Martin won Wyke Regis by 22 votes.
Mr Martin, 32, lives in Wyke with his wife Megan and their four-year-old daughter, Evie. He has worked for a local school for more than 10 years and recently became involved with the trade union Unison.
He said: “I’m very pleased with the result.”
Gareth Rockingham took the Westham East seat for Labour, another gain from the Conservatives after Ian James stood down.
Mr Rockingham, 26, grew up in Westham, where he still lives. He did his A-Levels at Budmouth College and went on to study at university in Southampton. He returned to Weymouth after his studies and now works for a retailer in the town centre.
He said: “I’m so pleased.”
Penny McCartney became the new Labour councillor for Tophill West, winning the seat from the Conservatives. It was previously occupied by Ian Munro-Price.
Mrs McCartney, 44, has lived on Portland with her husband for many years. She has recently been seconded to work with the probation service in a role working on education, employment and training.
She said: “It’s a great day for Portland."
Kevin Brookes held Upwey and Broadwey for the Conservatives after Robbie Dunster stood down. It is the third time he has served on the borough council.
Mr Brookes, 61, is the co-owner of MK Models in Weymouth and is a part-time bus driver for First. He is married to Anne and has two grown up children.
The Conservatives also kept Weymouth West after Dominic Lonsdale stood down. Claudia Webb held the seat for the Tories in the narrowest victory of the day – a majority of just five votes over closest rivals Labour.
Miss Webb, 30, a human resources administrator at Universal Engineering, was at work when the result was announced. She follows in the footsteps of her father, Christopher, who served as a councillor.
Conservative Cory Russell held on to Wey Valley after Kevin Hodder stood down and said he was ‘elated’ to have won.
He added: “The main thing is we have to work together.”
Mr Russell, 26, is an IT Application Support Officer for Dorset County Council. He graduated with a politics degree from the University of Portsmouth.