CONSERVATIVES in West Oxfordshire lost a third of the seats they were defending in last night’s local elections.

It was a success story for the Liberal Democrats and Labour who between them gained five seats from the Tories.

While the political balance of the council has not shifted, the number of Conservatives has been reduced from 39 to 34.

Meanwhile, the number of Liberal Democrat councillors has leapt from five to eight. The Labour group gained two new councillors, bringing their overall figure to six.

Jake Acock, who took the Ascott and Shipton ward from the Conservatives, said it was a ‘phenomenal night for Liberal Democrats in West Oxfordshire’.

Labour were pleased with their victories as well, with two new councillors joining the ranks: Rosa Bolger and Merilyn Davies.

Mrs Bolger took the seat that belonged to council leader James Mills in Witney East, beating her Conservative opponent Ron Spurs by just 10 votes in the closest result of the night.

The new additions mean that Labour has three female and three male district councillors.

The Conservatives had accepted it would be a ‘difficult’ night from the start.

Mr Mills, who won a seat in the Bampton and Clanfield ward, said there were a number of reasons for this, including people using the elections to express dissatisfaction with the current Conservative Government.

Conservative cabinet member for housing Colin Dingwall lost his seat, meaning the role is now up for grabs.

The political balance of the Council is now 34 Conservative; one Independent; six Labour; and eight Liberal Democrats.

Of the 11 sitting councillors seeking re-election, nine were successful Overall turnout was 36.17 per cent.

Newly elected councillors come into office on Tuesday, which is also the day when sitting councillors who did not stand for re-election, or who were not successful, retire from office.

But it was a different story in Oxford as Labour and the Lib Dems made gains.