Blair: War cast shadow over election

Senior Labour figures have acknowledged the impact of the war in Iraq on voting in council elections, with early results showing the party has lost dozens of seats.

The Conservative party has taken control of Brentwood Council from Labour, and the Greens have taken a seat off Labour in Watford.

Results for the Mayor of London and London Assembly will be declared at City tonight.

Across England and Wales, about half of the 166 council elections have been declared, with Labour losing more than 200 seats.

Tony Blair said Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq cast a "shadow" over the polls.

THE Green party victory in Watford came in the Callowland ward, where Ken Broadhurst gained 1,034 votes to beat Labour candidate Richard Short who received 309.

Labour also lost in Leggatts ward in Watford where the victory went to Liberal Democrat Khalid Mahmood who received 838 votes, beating Stephen O'Brien with 654 votes.

Andrew Wylie, Liberal Democrat, held Stanborough ward with 1,023 votes and Ian Brown held Woodside for the Liberal Democrats with 883 votes.

Meanwhile, voters remained loyal to standing parties in the Three Rivers district.

Abbots Langley was held for the Liberal Democrats by David Major with 876 votes. The turnout was 41.35 per cent.

Hayling was held by Kerron Cross of the Labour Party who gained 395 votes. The turnout was 30.06 per cent.

Liberal Democrats in St Albans were celebrating in the early hours of Friday morning as four new seats came under their control in the St Albans district.

Labour lost Ashley ward to Liberal Democrat Michael Ellis who beat Ted Hill by 912 votes to 713.

Labour also lost St Peter's to Liberal Democrat Martin Morris who beat Helen Ives-Rose by 987 votes to 613. The turnout was 41.94 per cent.

The Liberal Democrats gained Marshalswick South from the Conservatives when Melvin Teare polled 1,193 votes to defeat Richard Bretherton who gained 1,025 votes. The turnout was 51.41 per cent.

The Conservatives also lost Wheathampstead when Liberal Democrat Paul Edelstone defeated Gillian Clark by 1,137 votes to 1,062.

Cunningham ward was held by Liberal Democrat Geoff Harrison who received 1,180 votes. The turnout was 45.54 per cent.

Clarence ward was held by Liberal Democrat Brian Sinfield who received 985 votes. The turnout was 47.07 per cent.

Batchwood was held by Eleanor Harris for the Labour Party with 732 votes. The turnout was 40.07 per cent.

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