Labour win Gravesham but Conservatives hold Dartford in local elections
PUBLISHED: 09:32 06 May 2011 | UPDATED: 09:33 06 May 2011
Labour has gained control of Gravesham four years after they lost the seat in a contest described as a "key battleground" by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Meanwhile in Dartford, as expected, the Conservatives increased their stronghold taking 31 to Labour’s 9 with residents’ associations taking the remaining four.
The Conservative leader and Labour’s Ed Miliband had both made visits to Gravesham in the lead-up to the local election.
But even before the count started it was Labour councillors who were predicting victory at Woodville Halls, Gravesend.
Mr Miliband will return to Gravesend today to congratulate his party on the victory.
A jubilant Gravesham Labour leader councillor John Burden - ousted by the Conservatives in 2007 – celebrated overturning a Tory majority of 10 to hold a Labour majority of six.
Cllr Burden, who represents the Northfleet South ward, said: “It’s a sure victory for Labour over the Conservatives.
“Today went particularly well and shows the community have expressed their concerns over the Conservative cuts.”
He added: “They are not happy on the cuts. They are not happy with the attacks on the NHS.
“It’s been a long four years. We want to get back and reconnect with the local community.”
Defeated Conservative leader Mike Snelling, who will continue to represent the Meopham North ward, blamed the result on residents showing their disapproval of the coalition government.
He said: “The Labour Party fought their campaign on the national mood of the cuts.
“We have given them a golden legacy and in four years we will have to do what the Tories always do and clear up their mess.”
Labour won back control in Painters Ash, Singlewell and Central to claw back six seats. It gives the party a 25=seat majority to the Conservatives 19.
The count also saw the UK-wide referendum on AV votes collated but not counted. This is not due until early this evening.
An announcement on the final Gravesham ward – Pelham – was not announced until after 6am.