Ex-Conservative leader loses seat

The former leader of the Conservative group on Norwich City Council failed to hold his seat as the coalition parties faltered in a series of by-elections.

Labour gained a seat from the Tories and stay in minority control of the council in Norwich.

The Greens also gained a seat and remain the largest Green grouping on any local authority in the UK.

Labour also took three seats in council elections in Exeter.

In the largest voting test of the coalition since the general election voters in Norwich and Exeter had to vote in elections postponed in May.

The elections were put on hold because Norwich and Exeter were about to become unitary authorities.

'Vote collapse'

But when the plans were scrapped elections were called.

In Norwich, where one third of the council seats were up for election, Labour successfully defended six seats and won one.

Ex-councillor Antony Little, who was also Tory parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, was beaten by his Labour opponent.

The Green Party, which narrowly failed in its bid to become the largest party on the council, won one seat from the Lib Dems and held on to four seats.

Lib Dems held on to one seat and lost one seat to the Green Party.

The Conservatives lost their only seat up for election this time around.

The new council will be made up of 16 Labour members, 14 Greens, five Lib Dems and four Conservatives.

Mr Little said his loss of the Bowthorpe ward was partly caused by the "collapse of the Lib Dem vote, which then went to Labour".

"The Labour Party focused on national issues. I feel certain if it had been about city hall issues I would have been returned," he said.

'Ups and downs'

The acting leader of the Lib Dems on the council Judith Lubbock denied that national issues about the coalition government had played a part saying it "had done a good job".

"Every party has its ups and downs," she said.

Labour leader of the council Steve Morphew said: "Winning the extra seat and holding on to our seats has been an amazing result for us. Overall we are pretty satisfied."

Claire Stephenson, the Green Party group leader who held on to Nelson ward, said she was very pleased with the result.

"We made a gain from the Lib Dems. Their vote crumbled across the city. We have more councillors than we've ever had before in Norwich."

In Exeter, Labour won two from the Tories and recovered one lost earlier through a defection.

The Conservatives however compensated by snatching one seat from the Lib Dems and one from the separate Liberal Party.

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