6:09am Friday 23rd May 2014
UKIP made the biggest political strides in the local elections ousting Tory Jeff Hill from his Halesowen North seat after eight years and polling the second highest number of votes in the town's other three wards.
After two nail-biting recounts at the Cornbow Hall tonight, newcomer Andrea Goddard retained Hayley Green and Cradley South for the Conservatives with a slim majority of just 22 over UKIP's Adrian Turner.
In Belle Vale Ian Cooper pipped Robert Heeley to the post with a 123 majority - a Labour gain from the Tories in the seat previously held by Councillor Jill Nicholls, who was deselected.
Her replacement, Tarsem Singh Sidhu only managed third place with 943 votes, and the ward, which was true blue until Labour's Donella Russell won in 2012, now only has one Conservative, Cllr Bob James.
The Tories easily held Halesowen South with local lad Nick Gregory winning with 1,770 votes, a clear majority of 782 over nearest rival, UKIP's John Marshall.
Apart from Belle Vale, where Ian Cooper had campaigned hard on local issues and led the fight to save the Sons of Rest building for community use, Labour trailed in third place.
After Halesowen North's shock result, Mr Hill said he was "very disappointed" to lose out to UKIP's Stuart Henley, who polled 1,236 votes, slightly more than 33 per cent of the total cast, with a majority of 67 after a recount.
He said the Tories would have to look "at the wider picture" to understand the reasons for UKIP's success and added he would not rule out standing again in the future.
Halesowen and Rowley Regis Conservative MP James Morris acknowledged that UKIP had done better than expected in the local elections, which coincided with the European elections, to be counted on Sunday.
But with Labour's third place in the Halesowen wards and variable results around the country, he said it was not "a simple picture".
"We have to carry on doing what we are doing - for me that is continuing to represent the community to the best of my ability and nationally for the Government to continue with the policies which are putting the country back on a firm footing," he added.
Overall, on Dudley Council, UKIP went from two seats to nine. Labour lost two but held onto power with 40 seats, while the Conservatives are down four seats to 20.
The Green Party has one councillor and there remain two independent Conservatives.
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