Election 2014: Live coverage as Merton votes are counted
This live event has finished
- The atmosphere is getting tense as indications of results start to roll in.
- Rumours are Labour could see an overall majority win tonight.
- But Merton Conservatives leader Oonagh Moulton believes all is still to play for.
- Labour council leader Stephen Alambritis said he is tired and anxious.
- Indications Abbey ward could be the crucial swing seat.
The hall is empty and the councillors have gone home.
It's been a long night.
Signing out of the live blog.
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Finally, it was a shock loss to Merton Lib Dems as their leader, Iain Dysart, lost his council seat to a Tory candidate by a tiny margin.
Speaking graciously, with a smile on his face, Mr Dysart said: "Obviously I'm disappointed.
"We knew it was going to be close and I think that proved to be the case.
"We knew we had a national back-drop to deal with but we've done a lot of good things in the last few years and I think that was recognised by the West Barnes residents, although not on a high enough level."
Mr Dysart pointed out there were only 34 votes between him and the Tory candidate, but admitted it was a disappointing night for Merton Lib Dems.
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, leader of Merton Conservatives paid tribute to hard-working colleagues following the blow to her group overnight, vowing to hold the elected Labour council to account over the next four years.
She said: "We've lost a number of close, very hard-working colleagues tonight and I know that members across the council are saddened by that but we've also elected some new colleagues tonight but we've also elected here tonight some new colleagues, new councillors across the parties but in particular I pay tribute to those who have fought and won a good election.
"I do congratulate Labour on their victory and although our group is smaller it wil retain a strong presence because we are united as a Conservative group and we do stand up for our residents and we can reassure them that we will be holding this Labour administration to account."
Stephen Alambritis delivered a rousing speech to stalwhart Labour and opposition councillors following his daybreak victory.
The re-elected council leader said: "We knocked on a lot of doors of people who said we normally vote Conservative but we like the way you run the council and the way you run the administration and we don't want to change that."
He said: "I think residents like promises but they like to know they are realistic.
"We have done what we said we would do - we have frozen council tax, created 2,000 more school places, engaged with residents and in addition we have been business-like with good financial management."
He added: "The greater the majority the more humble we will be because the expectation is higher so we will continue to speak to residents and to others parties.
"The fact that we have a majority does not mean that there is a new ball game."
Even though it's daylight, he said he's going to have a drink to celebrate.
And it's all over! Labour has taken full control of Merton Council.
Labour won 36 seats after winning former Tory-dominated positions in Abbey, Canons Hill and Lower Morden wards.
Conservatives won 20 seats, down seven from 2010.
It was a successful night for Merton Park Independents who retained three seats in Merton Park.
While the Liberal Democrats leader Iain Dysart lost his seat in West Barnes by only about 35 seats to a Conservative candidate.
The LibDems did manage to retain 1 seat in the borough, with a victory for Mary-Jane Jeanes in West Barnes.
It looks like the stategy of UKIP candidates who defected from Merton Conservatives has not payed off - with seats lost across the board.
KOSHH and Mitcham Independent parties failed to come close to winning seats but gathered more than 100 votes for every candidate.
Results are coming in thick and fast.
Follow me @LouisaWimbledon for live updates
Massive victory for Labour in close-run contest over Abbey ward.
Conservatives have lost two seats to Labour - with newcomers Katy Neep and Abigail Jones busting Conservatives from their posts.
Former councillor Henry Nelless, who won 1,136 votes, has lost his seat.
While Andrew Judge has kept his seat.
First results have finally come through!
Cricket Green has retained its three Labour seats with Judy Saunders, Russell Makin and Ian Munn all re-elected.
They all won more than 2,000 votes each.
No other candidate won more than 500 votes.
Just over 9,710 people from Cricket Green turned out for the election.
Merton Park Independents are "quietly confident" about retaining their stronghold this year.
They won three seats in Merton Park ward in 2010.
Councillors John Sargeant and Peter Southgate
Coun John Sargeant said: "Normally the Conservatives are the strongest rival but there's little evidence of that this time.
"They have not been putting in all the effort that I had expected."
Coun Peter Southgate said: "We are quietly confident. We have had a very good response on the doorstep."
Still no announcements in Merton six hours after polls closed.
Yet Labour have announced they are confident of winning a majority.
Overheard in the count room: "I want to go home now."
A very tired Siobhain Mcdonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden said: "I'm extremely proud of our candidates and our campaign."
She agrees things are looking good for Labour in Lower Morden.
UKIP councillor Suzanne Evans has admitted defeat in Merton.
After a quick nap at the counting desk, she woke up to say: “I think I’m looking at a sizeable defeat but from the results around the country I’m feeling fairly positive.
“Nigel promised a a volcano around the country and he’s delivered.”
She said the borough has always been a Tory-Labour battlefield.
Of the Conservatives from whom she defected, coun Evans said: “They just don’t perform for their residents and that’s one reason why I left.
“The councillors they are getting are going to be the old guard we wanted to escape in the first place.”
Council leader Stephen Alambritis is looking confident about a Labour win - but says it's all in the hands of voters now.
He said: "We have put the work in. We have been very hard-working and I think at the end of the day we have done all we can and hopefully won residents' attention.
"I'm nervous and anxious because you really have to respect the people and musn't come to a conclusion."
He says he is glad to see so many different parties in the running this year.
Merton Conservatives leader Oonagh Moulton has decided to relax and enjoy the night now the votes are in and there's no more she can do.
She said: "Since the vote's done, it's done. We ran a good campaign. I'm just really proud of all our candidates who were a good team.
"I think it's all to play for, it's going to be close probably."
Entering into the Abbey ward debate about rubbish bins she said: "I think it was a bit sad to see some negative campaigning by Labour in Lower Morden and Abbey."
Word on the count floor is Labour will win overall majority of Merton tonight.
Rumours Labour has taken control of Lower Morden and Canon Hill ward.
All eyes are now on Abbey ward - where heated disputes between Conservative and Labour councillors have broken out on the count floor.
Conservative Village candidate Hamish Badenoch has accused Labour Abbey candidate Andrew Judge of releasing misleading information to residents.
He said claims the Conservatives would scrap weekly rubbish collections if they came to power were wrong.
Coun Judge said he just "did the maths" - claiming a 10% cut in council tax pledged by the Conservatives could only be achieved by cutting services like the weekly bin collection.
Keep Our St Helier Party candidates David Ash (Raynes Park), Frances Cornford (Sutton) and Sandra Ash (Wimbledon Park), with press officer Gemma Lewis
Campaigning candidates fighting for the future of St Helier Hospital are saying support on the streets for their party has been growing and growing.
But they don't expect to knock the more established parties off their perches tonight.
Sandra Ash, who has gone head to head with Merton Conservatives leader Oonagh Moulton in Wimbledon Park, said: "I'm quite excited. It's quite a novelty, I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.
Husband David Ash said: "We didn't expect much of a response from the more well-heeled residents but actually we had some very good feedback."
Knocking on a door in Raynes Park today, he said he met a woman who didn't even know it was the elections today, let alone know anything about KOSHH.
But he said the woman, who's son was saved by nurses at St George's Hospital, resonated with the objectives of KOSHH candidates and promised to vote for them today.
Will be very interesting to see how they do tonight.
Councillor Iain Dysart, leader of Merton Liberal Democrats, is looking confident before any results have been announced.
He said: "I'm confident that we have run the best possible campaign that we could have done.
"I think we have managed to reach out to the West Barnes community by getting them to recognise the difference we have made."
The Lib Dem campaign focused on introducing 20mph speed zones, step-free access to Raynes Park station and re-introducing freedom passes as part of the Health and Well-being fund.
Coun Dysart admitted the party is most optimistic about winning seats in West Barnes and Dundonald wards this year.
The Lib Dems won only two seats in the 2010 elections - with coun Dysart and coun Mary-Jane Jeanes successfully wooing West Barnes voters.
Hopes are high to see Anthony Fairclough and Diana Coman win seats in current Tory stronghold, Dundonald.
And the counting begins! Candidates have started to arrive for the hotly-contested council election battle.
Labour won minority control of the borough in 2010 after doing a deal with independents.
The borough is considered a key 'swing-seat' in the Labour v. Conservative battle for control of the capital.
UKIP are also hoping to gain ground with their first elected seat this year.
It will be interesting to see how many votes newly-formed political parties Mitcham Independent Party and Keep Our St Helier Party win over the night.
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