Election Results: Conservatives lose two councils in Kent

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Dig at Folkestone and Hythe

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The Conservatives lost nine seats on Folkestone and Hythe District Council

The Conservatives suffered heavy losses around Kent during Thursday's local elections.

They lost control of Folkestone and Hythe after 15 years – although they wanted to retain their power there – and also Swale, where they lost 16 councilors.

Labor's lonely victory was in Gravesham, where they exploited the split between the Tories last year to take overall control of the authority.

Three Tory councilors were also evicted from the party on a tough night.

Conservatives remain in power in much of Kent, but members defeat.

They initially lost nine seats in Folkestone and Hythe to give up their hold on the council, formerly known as Shepway.

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David Monk still hopes to form a minority board after the Tories have lost overall control over Folkestone and Hythe

Council leader David Monk predicted an "extermination", but was relieved that the Tories remain the largest party on the council, leading up to a reviving Labor Party and Green Party.

And with Conservatives still the largest party, with 13 out of 30 seats on the council, Mr. Monk said he was sure to form a minority board, although he admitted: "The atmosphere is very angry there."

In Swale, where the Tories had a majority of 17 seats on election day, the party lost 16, leaving eight behind general control.

The largest beneficiaries were Swale Independents, who received 10 seats to record their count to 12 – one more than Labor.

With the Brexit uncertainty affecting both main parties, Labor failed to make the profits in Kent they had hoped for, while UKIP was wiped out in its once-fortress of Thanet.

Labor's only success was in Gravesham, where they took control of the council with a majority of four seats, after a period in which the authority had left no party in the overall power in the aftermath of massive Tory-deserties.

Analysis

By BBC Radio Kent, political reporter Caroline Williams

From the beginning there was nervousness in Gravesham. The last time these seats were disputed, the Conservatives took the majority, but the gaps in the party and the bad feeling had conspired to cost them their power base.

Labor was the largest party in the election, but there was no general control. Three chairs were all that Labor needed, but judging by their faces in the morning, it was not at all clear that they would go their way.

Until almost the end, candidates would only whisper their hope, their faith, that this would be their day.

Once they were seated in 21 seats, their delight was no longer hidden. It was clear that Labor took Gravesham.

The council slip-flops between Conservatives and Labor and has done for many years.

But on this occasion, Labor leader, John Burden said, praising the hard work of his own team, Labor said thanks to Theresa May.

From the leader of the conservatives there was a bitter disappointment and a feeling that the local party was abandoned by the conservatives at the national level.

Although the Brexit was never far away, in Gravesham it did feel that local problems and local problems were at least as great.

Among the victims of Swale Tories was councilor Andrew Bowles. And while conservatives retained power in both Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells, they too lost their leaders – Simon Cook and John Jukes.

The Tories increased their majority on the Dover District Council – from three to six seats – although due to border changes their net gain in the night was only one. An independent person also grabbed a chair, while Labor and UKIP each lost one.

But in Thanet, where UKIP once dominated the council with 33 representatives, it lost all remaining seats.

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Medway council leader Alan Jarrett and Labor leader Vince Maple both retained their seat

Dartford Borough Council retained a Tory majority, but lost three seats to Labor.

Medway Council also remains a Tory stronghold with 33 out of 55 seats.

UKIP lost all four seats and Labor won five to put the total at 20.

Two independent candidates were also chosen.

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The Conservatives held Tunbridge Wells, but City Councilor Mr. Jukes was defeated in his Speldhurst and Bidborough chair by Lucinda Willis, of the Tunbridge Wells Alliance.

Tory colleague Matthew Bailey enjoyed a nail-biting victory in the Paddock Wood West chair, which reached Labor & Raymond Moon when many were drawn after the pair was tied to 289 votes each.

The Tunbridge Wells Alliance took five seats – the same as the Lib Dems – while the Conservatives kept the Council weakened.

The Lib Dems also won five seats in the Tory stronghold of Tonbridge and Malling, where the conservatives still have a large majority.

There was little change in Maidstone, where conservatives remain the largest party, but without overall control, after losing a seat to Labor.

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