THE Conservatives came within a whisker of regaining overall control of Worcester City Council in last night's local election.

As we reported live on this site late last night, just 28 votes separated the candidates in the key battleground of Arboretum, which Labour held by the tightest of margins.

The make-up of the council remains the same after all parties held on to their seats with the Conservatives in control but still a minority administration.

Tory leader Simon Geraghty said: "We came within a whisker tonight of winning in Arboretum - a result that would have put us back in power but it wasn't to be.

"It's certainly disappointing when just 14 voters voting the other way would have made all the difference.

"We are delighted to remain the majority party and this result shows the people of Worcester continue to give the Conservative Party and its renaissance vision for this city their full backing."

The massive swing away from Labour predicted nationally never really materialised in Worcester.

Labour leader Adrian Gregson said: "We're disappointed not to have made any further gains but it can be very difficult to overturn the large majorities in some wards."

The Conservatives retain 18 councillors, Labour, 12, Lib Dems, 3 and two Independents.

In the close-run Arboretum ward Joy Squires pipped her Conservative rival at the post and so returns to the city council after 13 years away from the Guildhall.

Councillor Squires said: "It was close but the Conservatives expected to take this seat and if they were really having a good year, they would have done.

"They threw everything they had at this ward but the people of Arboretum realised that Labour are on their side."

The most hotly contested seat of the night was St John's where Labour county councillor Richard Udall failed to win the seat from Independent councillor Margaret Layland.

Mr Udall blamed the loss on the Conservative/Independent "coalition"

He said: This is the first time the Conservatives have been voted into the Labour stronghold of St John's in living memory and hope the people of St John's understand there's a price to pay for this.

"Margaret Layland will continue to support the Conservatives and to continue to keep them in office. We will continue to represent the people of St John's Margaret Layland, who suffered a barrage of taunts from Labour councillors as she made her winning speech, said: "I am obviously pleased that my supporters went out and voted for me. It wasn't a very nice campaign. It was one heavily fought on food waste and accusing me of being Conservative.

"But people who know me, know I represent the people of St John's as independent."

Turnout was down across the city.

In Cathedral ward in the centre of the city turnout was 30.3 per cent compared to 35.2 per cent last year.

Conservative cabinet member Francis Lankester, who retained the seat, said: "I think like many people I'm disappointed by the turnout. Whoever you support and whatever you think about the way the city is run, it is important to use your democratic right to vote.

"I think because Cathedral ward is seen as a secure Conservative seat, people may have been less inclined to turn out and vote this time."

  • For the full list of results, click here.