LABOUR was booted out of Croydon last night during a night of high drama at the Fairfield Halls count.

Local Conservatives were jubilant after snatching seats in South Norwood, Upper Norwood, Addiscombe and Coulsdon East.

The party also took all three seats in Waddon, a ward which became a key battleground in a closely fought campaign.

Conservatives led by Mike Fisher now control the council chamber with 43 seats.

Labour lost 10 seats to end the night with 27, a result which some within the party had feared.

Local Liberal Democrats took a backward step losing their two seats.

The results came in during the early hours of Friday morning as nervous candidates kept a close watch on ballot papers.

Conservatives had predicted a swing to their party, but none could have hoped for such a catastrophic result for their political foes.

Nationally Labour lost seats across the country and several of their councils in the capital changed hands.

Tony Blair's party was not helped by a string of public relations disasters which came to light shortly before voters went to the polls.

Spiralling council tax bills, the closure of the Crosfield factory for disabled workers and the early closure of Stroud Green Lodge and Coleby Court old people's homes cost Tony Newman's party dear.

Not even a big push that saw several of his party's big-hitters visit the borough could convince the electorate that they were worth another chance.

Among the eye-catching results were those cabinet members who fell victim to a Labour backlash.

Paul Smith, the cabinet member for crime and public protection fell, as did Ian Payne who held the portfolio for economic development and corporate services.

Alison Butler, the cabinet member for housing, was among the sitting Labour councillors who lost in Waddon.

The result is the culmination of weeks of hard work for the Conservatives who fought a campaign on local issues that was helped by national headlines.

The party promised to bring uniformed officers to every neighbourhood, keep council tax increases low and instil a new sense of community.

That appears to have struck a chord with Croydon's electorate, who overwhelmingly signed up to their agenda.

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For a full round up and pictures of the local election results see next week's free Croydon Guardian