Conservatives beat UKIP into second place or worse in the Cotswolds
THE election of the UK's youngest county councillor was just one of the surprises of the Gloucestershire County County election results for the Cotswolds yesterday evening and the early hours of this morning.
In a night which saw five of the eight seats in the Cotswold district go to the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats - who made a gain when Paul Hodgkinson defeated Conservative David Thorpe to take the Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach seat - were the most vocal at the count, which took place at the Cotswold Leisure Centre in Cirencester.
Cheers rang round the sports hall from supporters when deputy returning officer Nigel Adams announced LIb Dem Cllr Joe Harris, aged 20, would take his seat as the youngest UK county councillor with more than half the votes cast in the Cirencester Park division.
Cllr Harris, who is also due to stand for Mayor of Cirencester later this year, said he was delighted with the result. He told the Standard: "It is quite a sobering thought to think that many people have put their faith and trust in me."
The election is the first to be conducted after a boundary review carried out in 2011 which saw the number of county council seats cut from 63 to 53 and no multi-member divisions.
The Conservative candidates to retain their seats included Lynden Stowe in Campden Vale with an overwhelming majority of 1,818 votes, with the second place UKIP representative Michael Fitzgerald trailing way behind with 481 votes.
Conservative Tony Hicks held on to the Tetbury seat, as did Shaun Parsons in South Cerney and Ray Theodoulou for the Lechlade and Fairford division.
The third of the Lib Dems to win the support of voters was former Cirencester College principal Nigel Robbins in the Cirencester Beeches division, where he defeated Conservative John Burgess by a convincing majority.
Cllr Theodoulou, who was most recently the GCC cabinet member for finance, property, procurement and administration, said he could not predict the final make up of the administration at Shire Hall.
"I think we have seen in this election there is an appetite for other parties, including Labour and of course UKIP," he said.
"Perhaps though it has become more aligned to the left, but it is undoubtedly still a strong Conservative area.
"I do not know what the make up of the county council will be but I hope we will still have a Conservative majority."
Although in the Cotswolds there were none of the UKIP gains experienced in other parts of the county, UKIP candidates did come second in four Cotswold divisions, Campden Vale, Fairford and Lechlade, Stow-on-the-Wold and Tetbury.
But it was the Liberal Democrats who appeared to be enjoying the results the most, topped off by a surprise Lib Dem gain in Bourton-on the-Water and Northleach for Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, who said it was a major breakthrough for the party.
"This is the first time a Liberal Democrat has won in this area," he said.
"Not only that but over the night we have gained three seats in the Cotswold divisions and made a major step forward."