Hart Conservatives' grip on the district has loosened after two top Tories were dumped off the council following a day of high drama at the election count on Friday (May 23).

Gavin Evans, cabinet member for Fleet, and Jonathan Glen, cabinet member for the environment, have both lost their seats on the new-look council, which has been slimmed down following a boundary review.

The council has been cut from 18 wards down to 11 and the number of councillors has been reduced by two to 33.

As a result, residents in each ward were given three votes, a change which led to the downfall of both Conservative councillors.

Independent Robert Leeson won Hook ward with 1,406 votes, followed by Tories Mike Morris (1,215) and Brian Burchfield (1,143), leaving Mr Glen, who has represented the ward since May 1991, trailing in fourth place with 1,134 votes.

Meanwhile, Mr Evans was dumped off Fleet Central after the Community Campaign Hart (CCH) won all three seats on the ward.

Mr Lesson, 58, who has lived in Hook for 25 years, said: "I'm surprised and humbled but it obviously shows the depth of feeling of the people of Hook and Rotherwick about the issues we are facing, predominantly the pressure for new development. It's not about no development but it has got to be balanced and proportionate around the district."

Dermot Smith, Mr Leeson's election agent, added: "He's completely  wiped the floor with them because he stood on a platform that if you think you can dump all the houses on Hook then you can think again."

Conservative group leader Stephen Parker said: "We knew it was going to be a challenge in Hook because the planning issue is a big problem and causing a lot of concern.

"I am extremely sad that we have lost such a very able and experienced councillor in Jonathan Glen.

"We are left with the Conservatives as still the largest single party on the council. We've got 14 against 19 'others'.

"What we've done over the past few years is run the council on a co-operative basis and worked together on the key issues and I hope we can continue to do that. There will be lots of discussions over the next few days."

Lib Dem group leader David Neighbour said: "We are delighted that we have retained all our seats and with increased majorities.

"We are grateful that the people of Yateley and Blackwater have kept their faith in us and it's now up to us not to let them down.

"All the parties will now have to put their thinking caps on and decide how  they can best represent Hart."

CCH leader James Radley added: "In the last two years no one party has had an absolute majority, which has fostered an atmosphere of co-operation and joint working and has worked for the benefit of the council and the residents. Personally I'm pleased that it looks as if we can move forward in a similar spirit."


*David Owens was not validated (Crookham West & Ewshot) and Anne Boon and Anne Crampton are the same person (Hartley Wintney).