Conservatives strengthened their grip on Cherwell District Council by winning 37 of the 50 seats - including all 11 seats in Bicester.

But in Bicester East, candidates sat through three recounts.

Conservative Geoffrey Archer had a clear lead with 600 votes, but a battle developed between Tory candidate Anthony Kempton and Labour's John Hanna for the second seat in the ward.

After the third recount, Anthony Kempton was declared the winner with 551 votes to Mr Hanna's 543.

Mr Hanna said: "I was disappointed, but I will be back next year when Cherwell reverts to a third of the council coming up for election."

The district council, reduced by boundary changes from 52 seats, now consists of 37 Conservatives, 11 Labour, and two Liberal Democrats.

The previous council had 33 Conservatives, 12 Labour, four Lib Dems, two Independent, and one Independent Labour.

Overall, the Tories have gained four seats, Labour lost one, Lib Dems lost two, Independents lost two, and Independent Labour lost one.

One notable defeat was in Bicester West where Labour's Les Sibley was hoping to regain a seat from his election sparring partner Tory Douglas Spencer.

Mr Sibley took Mr Spencer's Bicester North seat in the county council elections.

However, Mr Spencer defeated Mr Sibley to hold his Bicester West seat.

Mr Sibley said he was disappointed to lose.

Mr Spencer commented: "I have gained poetic justice."

In Banbury the turnout was low.

Only 22.97 per cent of the electorate in Hardwick turned out to vote.

Pub owner Lord Maurice Fermoy, a first-time candidate, was one of the three winners in Hardwick for the Tories.

In Banbury Grimsbury and Castle, Conservative town mayor Jim Vine failed to win a seat, but deputy mayor Tony Mepham was one of three Labour winners.

In villages where residents had the chance to vote the turn-out was high, with more than 40 per cent of the Bloxham/Bodicote electorate voting.

But in five rural seats, Tories were returned unopposed.