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Sweeping gains in Staffordshire as Labour fights back

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Labour made sweeping gains in Staffordshire, decimating the Conservative majority, as voters sent a clear message to David Cameron in the county council elections.

All three main parties were rocked by the rise nationwide of the UK Independence Party which secured historic results in the Wyre Forest as it claimed its first seats on Worcestershire County Council.

Tory MPs today urged the Prime Minister to take the threat of Ukip seriously after the mid-term drubbing. In Staffordshire, Labour went from just three councillors to 24 and is now set to form a formal shadow cabinet to challenge the 34 Tories.

The Conservatives also stayed in charge in Worcestershire but lost 10 councillors.

There were signs local issues had a large bearing on the results, with the threat to Stafford Hospital and opposition to the £33 billion HS2 scheme hitting the Tory vote.

Campaigner Rachel Jenkins stormed to victory in Tory stronghold Clent Hills after her high-profile battle against plans to build a new estate in Hagley, near Stourbridge.

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins was relieved to retain a majority as Ukip's share of the vote rocketed, with Nigel Farage's party coming second in many wards.

"We have got a majority of six, which is perfectly workable, despite there being a lot more Labour councillors," Councillor Atkins said. "A lot of people voted Ukip but that means they haven't gone to Labour."

Nationally the Conservatives lost control of 10 councils and some 340 seats. Labour made a net gain of 268 seats. Eight of those councils went to no overall control. Ukip picked up 131 more councillors and 23pc of the vote, with the Tories polling 25pc and Labour 29pc.

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Mr Cameron last night admitted the party had 'lessons to learn' from Ukip.

Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy and Cannock Chase's Aidan Burley called on Mr Cameron to think carefully about his strategy for 2015.

Mr Lefroy said: "The message from this is to take Ukip seriously."

Mr Burley added: "David Cameron needs to learn we can no longer dismiss them or the people who vote for them as fruitcakes."

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