The political make-up of West Oxfordshire District Council was a darker shade of blue today as the Conservatives strengthened their grip.

The party increased its majority from just two to 15 after chalking up notable gains in the elections.

Group leader Barry Norton, who was unopposed in the North Leigh ward, was delighted. Both his daughter and son-in-law, Louise and Martin Chapman, were also among the victorious Tories.

Cllr Norton said: "Clearly the voters of West Oxfordshire have shown their confidence in the way we are running the council. We ran a robust and vigorous campaign and look forward to selecting our cabinet."

Before polling, Tories had 25 councillors, Lib Dems 12, Independent nine, Labour two. Conservatives now have 32 of the 49 seats, Lib Dems 10, Independents five, and Labour two.

This is the first time since 1976 that all councillors were voted in at the same election.

Boundary changes have evened out the electorate between wards, lumping some villages together in new combinations, while Witney now has 12 councillors instead of nine to reflect the town's expansion.

Only seven wards stayed the same as before and there were 108 candidates in total, the Tories fielding 46 of them.

The overall turnout was estimated to be more than a third, with the highest -- 70 per cent -- in Hailey, Minster Lovell and Leafield.

The eldest candidate, 80-year-old Arthur Titherington, standing as an Independent and with a high public profile as a campaigner for ex-Japanese prisoners of war, failed to win one of the three seats in Witney South. Another veteran candidate, Independent John Hannis, was successfully returned in Chipping Norton.

The Liberal Democrats are still the second largest group and their spokesman, Gareth Epps, successful in Freeland and Long Hanborough, said: "It will be an interesting new council and we will provide a vibrant opposition."

Labour could do no more than keep its two councillors, Ted Cooper, in Witney Central and Eve Coles, in Chipping Norton. Spokesman Duncan Enright, who failed in Woodstock, said: "We are disappointed with some of the results, particularly in Witney."

The Greens fielded six candidates, with Richard Dossett-Davies, who was fourth place in Witney North, doing the best with 324 votes.

He said: ""I am pleased. This is more than last time."