COLCHESTER Council’s ruling coalition looks set to have maintained its grip on power after a dramatic election night.

The Lib Dem and Labour alliance went into Thursday’s poll holding 24 seats between them. After the results were counted they hold 23.

However, with the Conservative opposition failing to make up ground or take seats from other parties, the progressive alliance looks like it will survive at least another year.

Leader of the council Mark Cory (Lib Dem) said: “We will start talking with other parties about how we work together going forward.

“I personally could not work with the Conservative Party because I do not believe our values align but I believe the other parties could work together.”

Mr Cory said he would like to welcome the Greens to the coalition.

He said: “I would absolutely work with the Greens as part of a like-minded coalition investing in projects like social housing as well as our projects to make the borough greener.

"This is not about me keeping my job. It is in the interests of Colchester an administration is formed and continues to push forward with our progressive agenda.”

The first result of the night saw the council’s deputy leader Julie Young (Lab) hold her Greenstead seat. Labour cabinet member Mike Lilley retained Old Heath and Hythe whilst John Jowers (Con) romped to victory in Mersea and Pyefleet.

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Jeremy Hagon held Stanway for the Tories after Fiona McLean stepped down, with Dave Harris (Lab) holding Berechurch and Kevin Bentley (Con) holding Marks Tey and Layer.

The first ward to change hands was New Town and Christ Church, where Pam Cox took the seat from the Lib Dems for Labour.

Steph Nissen (Green) won Castle from the Lib Dems whilst Dennis Willets and Martin Leatherdale held Lexden and Braiswick for the Tories.

The Lib Dems fought back when Michelle Burrows won Wivenhoe from incumbent Labour candidate Cyril Liddy.

Ms Young said she supported the administration continuing.

She added: “It looks like Colchester will once again be hung and the future of the council depends on the alliance continuing to work together to prevent the Tories taking control.

Roger Mannion held Tiptree for the Tories, Lyn Barton Shrub End for the Lib Dems and Gerard Oxford Highwoods for his independent group.

Ex-Tory leader Darius Laws won in safe Tory seat Rural North, whilst Sue Lissimore and new face Leigh Tate held Prettygate for the Conservatives.

Martin Goss held Mile End for the Lib Dems as did veteran Mike Hogg in St Anne’s and St John’s seat - by just 27 votes.

The Conservatives hold 23 seats, Lib Dems 12, Labour 11, Highwoods Independents three and Greens two.