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May 23, 2014 8:51 am
The UK Independence party has failed to gain as much traction in London as it has in the UK regions, with local election results showing the Labour party to be the biggest overall winner in the capital so far.
Early on Friday morning, Labour took control of Hammersmith and Fulham in west London, a flagship Tory council previously described as the prime minister’s “favourite council”.
Of the seven London councils to have declared results, Labour also won Merton in south London, previously under no overall control, and held Enfield and Haringey in north London. it has also won control of Croydon council from the Conservatives, a key gain for the opposition party, which will want to take seats from the Tories in south London next year.
The Conservatives won Kingston upon Thames from the Liberal Democrats, and held Wandsworth, in south London.
By contrast, Ukip performed more poorly in the capital, despite making significant gains outside of the capital.
Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader told Sky News that he was “very pleased” with the party’s “good, solid performance”, but he recognised that London remained a weak area of support for Ukip.
The party performed strongly in neighbouring Essex, however. Four former Conservative-run councils – Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point and Southend – have fallen to no overall control following strong gains for the anti-Brussels party.
Douglas Alexander MP, the shadow foreign secretary, told the BBC that Labour’s strong showing in London was the result of to having “activists on the doorsteps”, tapping into relevant local issues to overcome the “cynicism and alienation” that was driving the Ukip vote.
Results of the 2014 local elections
In Hammersmith, housing and hospitals were the two central planks of Labour’s campaign. Speaking to the Financial Times before the Hammersmith and Fulham results were announced, Stephen Cowan, Labour leader in the borough, said there had been too much overdevelopment in the area, “egged on by the council”.
The party has bitterly criticised the low levels of affordable housing at a proposed development of thousands of homes in Earl’s Court, which will replace the exhibition centre and some nearby social housing.
The Tories will claim that they have run the council more effectively than Labour, having repeatedly cut council tax bills and having merged services with Kensington and Westminster to save costs.
But the biggest political row in the borough is the future of Charing Cross hospital, which is set to be rebuilt with more than half of the site sold off to developers.
Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, had accused the Tory council of “closing the accident and emergency facility and demolishing the hospital” – a charge which was angrily rejected by the Conservatives.
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