LESS than 24 hours after winning back the Winchester parliamentary seat, the Conservatives lost control of the district council.
The Liberal Democrats led by Cllr Kelsie Learney gained five seats to hold a wafer-thin but priceless majority of one in the chamber.
The Tories, led by Cllr George Beckett, had held the same narrow advantage since coming to power in 2006.
That vote came just weeks after the Mark Oaten scandal and allowed the Conservatives to capture 13 of 19 seats at the time.
On Friday (May 7) they learned how many of the 13 wards they had defended, after improved Lib Dem showings in 2007 and 2008.
For 2010, the Tories scooped 10 seats while the Lib Dems managed nine, but it was just enough to see a change at the top.
After the count at the River Park Leisure Centre in Winchester, Cllr Learney saluted the efforts of Lib Dem activists.
She said: “People have worked so hard over this election and it showed just how much Liberal Democrat support there is in Winchester.”
She added that the party would meet in the next few days to confirm its new cabinet team.
One of their priorities, she said, would be to make the district greener and reduce its carbon footprint.
“And we’ll make a start by moving George’s Jaguar out of the leader’s space so that I can put my bike there,” she added.
Cllr Beckett paid tribute to his colleagues Richard Worrall and Stan Howell who both lost their seats.
He said: “We came to power four years ago in unusual circumstances. Our record in running the council has been good, but that did not seem to be recognised in this election.”
He added that the Tory group would decide if he stayed as group leader, but he was happy to “offer his services” to continue.
The Tories now have 26 seats, the Lib Dems 29, and there are two Independent members in Bishop’s Waltham.
The third Independent, Georgina Busher, chose not to stand this year and the Tories captured her seat, which was the party’s only gain.
One seat captured by the Lib Dems was St John and All Saints, which includes Winnall and Highcliffe, at the expense of Chris Pines.
His defeat means that no Labour councillors are left in Winchester, but he said it was “just a hiccup”.
He argued that the Lib Dem vote was inflated by the general election, and he aimed to win the seat back in 2011.
“There were a number of officers who said to me ‘we’ll miss you Chris’. I must have been an irritant to many of them, but it was nice of them to say it,” he added.
One member who is staying though is Cllr Victoria Weston. She held Swanmore and Newtown for the Tories, denying former Lib Dem leader Sheila Campbell a return to the chamber.
The Greens also left empty handed, having focused their energy in St Bartholomew Ward, where Alison Craig finished a distant third.
The seat was retained by the outgoing Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Dominic Hiscock.
His successor, Cllr Richard Izard, also won for the Lib Dems in Colden Common and Twyford, which was the last ward
He will take office at the next full council meeting on Wednesday, May 19, where the Lib Dems will assume charge of the council.
Winchester City Council results (*sitting councillor)
Bishop’s Waltham, Con gain from Ind Steve Haines, Lab, 224 Gideon Lake, Ind, 779 David McLean, Con, 1552 Benjamin Stoneham, Lib Dem, 1479
Cheriton and Bishop’s Sutton, Con hold Tim Curran, Lab, 52 Chris Day, Lib Dem, 503 Harry Verney, Conservative*, 866
Colden Common and Twyford, LD hold Nigel Burwood, Con, 1285 Nicholas Carr, Lab, 153 Richard Izard, Lib Dem*, 1904
Denmead, Con hold Kirk Phillips, Con, 2535 David Picton-Jones, Lab, 219 Margaret Scriven, Lib Dem, 1142
Droxford, Soberton and Hambledon, Con hold Tony Coates, Con*, 910 Alyn Edwards, Lab, 41 Alan Hibbert, Lib Dem, 419
Kings Worthy, LD gain from Con Elaine Fullaway, Lab, 158 Stan Howell, Con*, 1058 Jane Rutter, Lib Dem, 1393
Oliver’s Battery and Badger Farm, LD hold Lynda Banister, Lib Dem, 1615 Kim Gottlieb, Con, 943 Margaret Rees, Lab, 126
Owslebury and Curdridge, Con hold Clive Coldwell, Lab, 96 Laurence Ruffell, Con*, 1330 Jo White, Lib Dem, 983
Shedfield, Con hold Pat Hayward, Lab, 122 Roger Huxstep, Con*, 1497 Michael Toole, Lib Dem, 743
Sparsholt, Con hold Victoria Kilroy, Lib Dem, 397 Tessa Valentine, Lab, 32 Keith Wood, Con*, 668
St Barnabas, LD gain from Con Susan Witt, Lib Dem, 1798 Richard Worrall, Con*, 1618 Tania Ziegler, Lab, 234
St Bartholomew, LD hold Denis Archdeacon, Lab, 205 Alison Craig, Green, 443 Dominic Hiscock, Lib Dem*, 1802 Paul Wing, Con, 1114
St John and All Saints, LD gain from Lab James Byrnes, Con, 743 Brian Collin, Lib Dem, 1217 Chris Pines, Lab*, 993
St Luke, LD gain from Con Rose Prowse, Lib Dem, 1397 Peter Rees, Lab, 247 Jamie Scott, Con, 1038
St Michael, Con hold Tony Ayres, Lib Dem, 1582 Antony de Peyer, Lab, 185 Ian Tait, Con*, 1799
St Paul, LD hold Adrian Field, Lab, 230 Helen Osborne, Con, 1240 Ray Pearce, Lib Dem*, 2021
Swanmore and Newtown, Con hold Sheila Campbell, Lib Dem, 1024 Robert Rudge, Lab, 115 Vicki Weston, Con*, 1549
The Alresfords, LD gain from Con Robin Atkins, Lab, 156 Margot Power, Lib Dem, 1972 Ken Yeldham, Con, 1906
Wonston and Micheldever, Con hold Andrew Adams, Lab, 133 Richard Coleman, Lib Dem, 1285 Stephen Godfrey, Con*, 1990