UKIP gains in local elections
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has made huge gains in local government elections, posing a threat to the major parties across England.
With counting still taking place in 28 English authorities and the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, UKIP has already won 16 seats in Lincolnshire, 10 in Hampshire, nine in Essex, three in Gloucestershire, three in Somerset and one in Dorset.
So far, the Conservatives have lost 74 seats and have abdicated two English local authorities, including Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire where UKIP gained three seats and Labour four.
However, they have retained control in Dorset, Essex and Hampshire, defending nearly 1,477 of their 2,362 seats.
The Liberal Democrats have lost 16 seats, including four in their key target area of Somerset.
With only seven of the 35 council election results declared so far, UKIP’s performance outshines all major parties, with an average 26% of the vote in council wards where it stood.
The party also performed well in the north and UKIP candidate Richard Elvin came second to Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck in the South Shields parliamentary by-election, triggered by David Miliband’s resignation as MP.
Celebrating the outstanding results UKIP’s deputy leader, Paul Nuttall said: “It’s a message to all the three mainstream parties that UKIP is the official opposition”.
All the 1,811 seats on 27 county councils and 528 seats on the six unitary councils were being contested, with 23 seats being contested on six unitary councils. In Wales, 40 seats were contested on the Anglesey borough council.
Although it is expected that UKIP will not take control of a single council, Nigel Farage’s party could come top in next year’s European Parliament elections.