Beds, Herts & Bucks

Conservatives extend control of Hertfordshire County Council

The count in Letchworth
Image caption While 66 seats were counted on Thursday night, 12 were being counted on Friday

The Conservatives have extended their control at Hertfordshire County Council.

Of the 78 seats contested, the Conservatives have taken 51, which represents 45.9% of the vote. It is five more than the 46 seats they won in 2013, when 77 seats were contested.

The Liberal Democrats have taken 18 seats, two more than the 16 they won in 2013 and Labour have nine, six fewer than the last vote.

The turnout was 34.1%.

Election 2017: Full results from across England

The leader of the council's Labour group, Leon Reefe, who had held the Borehamwood North division since 2013, lost his seat to Tory Susan Brown. In Stevenage, Labour lost three seats out of the five they held.

Image caption Labour lost three seats out of the five they held in Stevenage.

Labour's Sharon Taylor, who held her county council seat and is standing in the general election, blamed the former UKIP vote going to the Tories.

She said: "UKIP didn't put candidates up in many of our county seats."

Sitting Conservative MP Stephen McPartland, who will defend his seat in June, said: "It's a fantastic result. There's been a very, very warm reception from voters on the doorstep and we've been rewarded tonight."

Analysis: Andy Holmes, BBC Three Counties Political Reporter

In Conservative-controlled Hertfordshire, as expected, we've not seen a seismic change.

The Tories have more county council seats than in 2013 - adding five extra seats - even if you take into account that this time there are 78 councillors up for election - one more than in 2013 thanks to boundary changes.

The Lib Dems have made progress, gaining an extra two seats in the county, including taking St Albans North from Labour.

They still have five seats in St Albans - although they lost St Stephen's ward to the Conservatives - with the party claiming it reflects their pro-European stance in the city which voted against Brexit.

Labour have lost six seats, including their leader on the county council, Leon Reefe, plus three seats in Stevenage.

Sandy Walkington, re-elected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for St Albans South, said the party's positive attitude towards Europe had been well-received in the city.

"Ann Main [the sitting Conservative MP] should be trembling in St Albans for her parliamentary seat on the back of these results, given it's so close to the general election," he said.

"If you read the social media in St Albans, it really is showing that people have been touched and interested by the fact that we are the party that is saying 'hang on, we don't have to go down the road to hard Brexit'."

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