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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Labour relief despite Tory gains
David Edwards wins in Burnley
The BNP's David Edwards and Carol Hughes won seats
A mixed night has left Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems with little to celebrate in the English local elections.

The BBC's latest projection of each party's share of the vote puts the Conservatives on 34% with Labour on 33% and the Liberal Democrats on 27%.
Vote shares
Conservatives: 34%
Labour 33%
Lib Dem: 27%
Others: 5%

Turnout, with a handful of results remaining, is forecast to be 35% - which would be the highest for any local election since Labour came to power and up significantly from the 29.6% in 2000.

The night's shock result saw the extremist British National Party picking up three council seats in Burnley.

The party, which last had a councillor elected nine years ago, also saw its candidates average 27% of the vote in Oldham.

The future of elected mayors seemed certain to be questioned after Hartlepool voters elected local football team mascot Stuart Drummond, known as H'Angus the Monkey, to the post.

Overall +5%
Postal voting +28%
E-voting +5%
Online voting +1%
No experiment +4%

In the wider national picture, Labour lost some ground but on a night of little overall change the Conservatives did not get the clear breakthrough they had hoped for.

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats won Norwich - a Labour stronghold for almost 70 years - and Kingston-Upon-Thames, as a number of councils changed hands.

There have also been significant Labour gains in Sheffield, which the Lib Dems lost control of.

"Chill factor"

The BNP failed to win any seats in Oldham, but civil engineer David John Edwards did triumph in Burnley and was later followed by his party colleague, Carol Hughes.

Then on Friday Terry Grogan learned he too had won a council seat in Burnley by just four votes - the result coming after five recounts.

Lord Ouseley, former chairman of the Campaign for Racial Equality, said it was a "severe chill factor" for the area's community relations.

The town's Labour MP, Peter Pike, said voters had been conned by "racist" candidates but the party insisted it had tackled concerns head-on.

Stuart Drummond, alias H'Angus the Monkey
"H'Angus the Monkey" was elected mayor of Hartlepool
Labour chairman Charles Clarke said the BNP's success was "disappointing".

He said the party's candidates were only interested in "tearing apart" the communities they targeted.

But BNP leader Nick Griffin called the result a "triumph".

He denied the party was exploiting racial tension in Northern towns, but he said the BNP's objective remained "an all white Britain".

But the party only fielded 68 candidates when there were almost 6,000 seats contested nationwide.

'Swings and roundabouts'

In Iain Duncan Smith's first major electoral test, the Tories gained Adur, Swale, Peterborough and Wokingham, and Enfield, where Michael Portillo lost his seat in 1997.

But they lost power in Cheltenham, Worthing and Eastbourne.

Key events
Labour lose Hull
Liberal Democrats win Norwich but are ousted in Sheffield
Conservatives win Enfield, lose Eastbourne and Cheltenham
Independents win control of Elmbridge Council
BNP wins three seats in Burnley but fails in Oldham
Stuart Drummond, alias "H'Angus the Monkey", elected Hartlepool mayor

Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram called the Conservative performance "workmanlike".

He said: "We are at a very early stage in building our policies and I think we can be satisfied with last night."

But Lib Dem chairman Mark Oaten claimed the Tories were "flat lining", although his party later lost Richmond to them.

Labour's vote rose in some of its traditional heartlands but the party lost 20 seats and overall power in Hull, as well as control of Stoke-on-Trent.

First mayors

The party's vote has dropped 14% in London boroughs, where it lost Lambeth, Enfield and Harrow - although it did win back Bexley.

Voters in seven areas have been the first to follow Greater London's example in choosing directly elected mayors.

The Lib Dems notched up the mayoral victory in Watford, while Labour had their candidates elected in Newham and Doncaster.

The Conservatives won a closely-fought mayoral contest in North Tyneside.

Single-issue successes

There have been successes for independent councillors too.

Residents groups took control of Elmbridge Council, while in Kidderminster campaigners to save the town's hospital repeated the victory they won at the general election.

In a night of success for fringe parties, the Greens also put up their best performance since the 1989 European elections, winning 7% where they stood - up two points on 2000.

It appears that all-postal votes were more successful at encouraging voters than internet polls.

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan
"The three major parties are breathing a sigh of relief"
Labour Party Chairman Charles Clarke
"We held major councils like Birmingham, Leeds, Rochdale, Wolverhampton"
Conservative shadow cabinet member Theresa May
"We took the largest share of the popular vote"
Liberal Democrat's Treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor
"We're up in terms of councils. We're up in terms of councillors"
Local Election results

After 174 of 174 councils

Party Total Net
Lab 63 -8
Con 42 9
LibDem 15 2
Ind 0 0
Oth 2 2
NOC 52 -5
Party Total Net
Lab 2402 -339
Con 2005 237
LibDem 1263 45
Ind 136 -79
Oth 101 2
Local Election results
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Should voting be compulsory?



6547 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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