South Holland’s Tories boosted their number of council seats by three to a record 28 as the district and general elections coincided for the first time in nearly 40 years.
The Independents lost five seats – dropping their number to seven – and UKIP gained two seats, one each from the Tories and Independents, giving that party its first ever representation here at district level.
Council leader Gary Porter revealed in February that he could lose in the two-seat Spalding St Mary’s Ward seat, but challenges from UKIP county councillor Richard Fairman and Independent Robert West fizzled out when voters went to the polls.
Turnouts were nearly double the usual level for district council elections – with some percentages in the mid-60s – as the Hayes effect towed the Tories home.
Coun Porter, who was the MP’s campaign manager, said: “Every Conservative district councillor will owe some of their victory to John Hayes – this is why we ran the two campaigns as one.
He admitted being “very, very relieved” about his own result.
They (UKIP councillors) will learn very quickly that they can’t deliver any of their promises that they made in their leaflets.Council leader Gary Porter
“I have got lots of things to be getting on with and gardening isn’t one of them,” he said.
Coun Porter said he was sorry to see councillors lose their seats – Tories and Independents – but was pleased to welcome some new, younger Tory councillors as the Conservatives celebrate their best ever result in South Holland.
He said the two UKIP councillors “will add a new dynamic to the council”, but added: “They will learn very quickly that they can’t deliver any of their promises that they made in their leaflets.”
Independent group leader Coun Angela Newton, who topped the poll in Spalding Monkhouse, said: “I am really sad that we have lost some good candidates.
“John Hayes is a good MP and I think a lot of people who voted for him would have also voted for the Conservative district council candidates.
“I think there has been a bit of a ‘Conservative drag’, but I am not taking anything away from their candidates.”
UKIP’s local chairman Paul Foyster, who polled third highest in Holbeach Town Ward to claim an Independent seat, said: “I am disappointed that more of us weren’t elected.”
He blamed “the Scottish factor” – fears over a Labour Party/Scottish National Party pact – for boosting the Tory vote and squeezing UKIP.