The Liberal Democrats have strengthened their grip on Wokingham Borough Council – falling just short of a full majority after local election results were declared on Friday, May 3.

The party now has 27 of the 54-seat council -a gain of one councillor. Their main opposition, the Conservatives, fell from 22 seats to 19. The Labour Party has grown from five councillors to eight.

Liberal Democrat council leader Stephen Conway told the News he was ‘pleased’ with the result. He said: “We’ve strengthened our position on the council. The Conservatives went down – they are weakened.

“I’m fairly confident that there has never been a time when the Conservative group on Wokingham Borough Council have had fewer than 20 councillors.”

AS IT HAPPENED: Wokingham Borough Council election results

But Conservative opposition leader Pauline Jorgensen pointed out that the result was not as strong as the Liberal Democrats had hoped for – having not managed to get a majority.

She said: “I think that it’s interesting that the Liberal Democrats did not gain control – they made a lot of fuss about this being their opportunity to gain control, and they didn’t.

“For us it’s a difficult period but it’s a good result. I’m really pleased that we gained some great new candidates and I’m sad to see that some of the people who worked so hard who didn’t win.”

She added that the Conservatives did well in areas where promises – such as to reverse an increase in parking charges and keep weekly bin collections – ‘resonated with people.’

She said: “I talked to a lot of people who are really fed up with the state of the borough – they don’t want to go to bi-weekly bin collections.

"Unfortunately we didn’t get enough support to overturn it but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop fighting. We’ll always fight for things that we know that people want.”

The Labour Party appeared to link its success to its localised campaigning. Labour group leader Andy Croy lost his seat. But overall it gained five additional councillors.

Labour councillor Rachel Burgess said: “Residents recognise how hard Labour candidates work and know that this will translate into being hard-working councillors.

“I would like to thank everyone that voted Labour – we will continue to work hard for all our residents.”

The new council is set to be voted in at its annual meeting on May 23. Councillor Conway said that, with 27 councillors, the Liberal Democrats will be able to carry on controlling the council.

But he added that he hoped the Liberal Democrats’ ‘generally cordial and good relationship’ with the Labour group would continue.