PURBECK District Council's Tory majority is no more, after two Lib Dem election gains split the main chamber down the middle.

The council - that now has no ruling party - will convene for its next full meeting with 11 Conservatives, 11 Liberal Democrats, and two Independent members.

Labour, who under Gordon Brown suffered their worst local election results in 40 years, failed to win power in any of the eight contested wards.

Mid-Dorset and North Poole Lib Dem MP Annette Brooke, who attended yesterday's count in Wareham said: "It is going to be very interesting with the 11/11 split.

"In this time of the rising Tory tide it is excellent that we've made gains in Purbeck.

"We missed becoming the largest party in Purbeck District Council by just 14 votes. I think this will be one part of the country where David Cameron is not very happy."

In the Lytchett Matravers ward, Alexandra Brenton, the Lib Dem candidate chasing Michael Peacock's vacated seat, lost the chance to sit on the council by 14 votes. Tory David Cross eventually triumphed with 729.

Just under 45 per cent of Purbeck residents turned out to the polls on Thursday.

One of the biggest issues was housing - recommendations for 5,150 new homes to be built by 2026 provoked widespread condemnation.

Cllr Nick Cake, leader of the district council's Tory group, said: "The Conservatives are obviously disappointed that we no longer have an overall majority.

"However, we will continue to do our best for the people of Purbeck by being realistic in our promises."

The Lib Dem gains came in Wareham and Wool, where Keith Critchley and Graham Holmes triumphed convincingly over the previous Conservative members.

A delighted Cllr David Budd, leader of the council's Lib Dems, said: "This is an opportunity for the council to have a real change and the Liberal Democrats are ambitious for Purbeck."

Former Tory councillor Colin Bright, who jumped ship to the Lib Dems in the run up to the crunch Swanage South scrap, failed to get re-elected.

The seat remains in Tory hands after Alison Patrick polled 932 votes with Mr Bright on 561.

******* Purbeck results Lib Dem gains in Wareham and Wool leave Purbeck District Council with no overall ruling party.

Political split is: Conservatives, 11 seats, Lib Dems, 11 seats, Independents, two seats.

LYTCHETT MATRAVERS WARD: two seats contested/Lib Dem and Cons both hold one seat each.

BRENTON Alexandra (LD) 715.

COLVEY Martyn (LD) 785 (ELECTED) CROSS David Michael (Con) 729 (ELECTED) GIBB Colin Frank (Con) 692.


STARR Wendy Margaret (LD) 692 (ELECTED) WILLIAMS Simon Graham (Con), 509 LYTCHETT MINSTER AND UPTON WEST WARD: Con hold.

CADE Ruth Rosemary (Lab) 50 HOWLETT Mark Andrew (LD) 391 JOHNS Paul Francis (Con) 829 votes (ELECTED) ST MARTIN WARD: Lib Dem hold.

EZZARD Beryl Rita (LD) 563 (ELECTED) THOMAS Jane (Con) 438 SWANAGE NORTH WARD: Cons hold.

KEELING Philippa Hazel (LD) 497.

MARSH Gloria Ann (Con) 917 (ELECTED) STOREY Margaret (Lab) 132 SWANAGE SOUTH WARD: Cons hold.

BRIGHT Colin Richard (LD) 561 LARTHE Marilyn Ann (Lab) 348 PATRICK Alison (Con) 932 (ELECTED) WAREHAM WARD: Lib Dem gain.

ANDERSON Roy (Con) 915 CRITCHLEY Keith William Thomas (LD) 1,245 (ELECTED) WOOL WARD: Lib Dem gain.

HODDER Rosemary (Ind) 304 votes HOLMES Graham (LD) 725 (ELECTED) PHILLIPS Rosemary Frances (Lab) 73 SHAKESBY (Con) Malcolm Leonard 438