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Updated: Greens triumph in Brighton and Hove
Brighton and Hove has gone Green - for the second time in just 12 months.
After years of domination by the Conservatives and Labour, Brighton and Hove City Council is now in the hands of the political underdogs.
Just 15 years after gaining its first ever seat in the city, the Greens nearly doubled their numbers to become the largest single party in what was truly an historic day.
It came just a year after Caroline Lucas was crowned the country's first Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion.
The in-roads made by the minnows in the council elections means the ruling Conservative group has been kicked virtually into touch.
Among the seven Tory casualties were four cabinet members.
Meanwhile Labour, despite polling only 1% fewer total votes than the Greens, ended up with the same number of seats as in 2007.
In a bad bay for the Liberal Democrats across the county, they also lost their last city councillor.
The tension-fuelled count at Hove Town Hall on Friday contained its fair share of nail-biting, cheers and a few tears.
A high turnout unprecedented in some wards was attributed to the national referendum on the alternative vote and a tight threeway contest, where every party threw everything it could at winning the most seats.
Once the five-hour counting process was complete the results were Greens 23, Conservative 18 and Labour 13.
It means there is no overall control and the Greens will need the support of others to push through policies.
Green convenor Bill Randall said it was a great result for the city and a huge vote of confidence in the Greens.
He told The Argus: "It has been a very tough election, the hardest of all three I have contested.
"But it is clear that people are impressed with our ideas and our candidates. They seem to be genuinely enthused by the option of a Green-led council."
When asked about the possibility of forming a coalition with the Labour group, he added: "We will now talk about the options with the group and see what we can do to take the city forward.
"We will try and involve as many people from across the city as possible in our decision-making."
The tone was set early as the Greens came fourth in the Labour heartland of East Brighton, a seat where it had hardly campaigned.
It was the first successes of many gains.
The roof of Hove TownHall was nearly lifted as the Greens swept Preston Park and Goldsmid in addition to two gains in Hollingdean and Stanmer.
This, combined with unexpected breakthroughs in Withdean (Sue Shanks) and Central Hove (Chris Hawtree), made it a day to remember.
The Conservatives suffered the most as they lost four cabinet members Jan Young (Central Hove) , Trevor Alford (North Portslade), Maria Caulfield and Ayas Fallon-Khan (both Moulsecoomb and Bevendean).
Conservative group leader Mary Mears told The Argus: "We have lost some really good councillors and some really good candidates.
"National politics has definitely had a sway in this election. The Greens have never been challenged.
"The proof ultimately will be in the pudding when they have to make decisions and difficult choices."
When asked about the Tories future in Brighton and Hove, she added: "We will be back."
Labour gained four councillors in Hove wards but lost experienced members when the Greens took Preston Park and Hollingdean and Stanmer.
The party was also disappointed not to make inroads in either Queen's Park or Hanover and Elm Grove.
Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: "We have lost some seats and some dear friends and colleagues but we have also had some fantastic successes, such as in Wish.
"We have been a very effective opposition to the Conservatives and we will continue to challenge the Greens but work with them when we feel it s appropriate.
"The first thing I have to do is have a meeting with the new Labour group and decide where we go from here."
Defeated Lib Dem Mr Elgood said: "It wasn't unexpected. I spoke out against the national coalition as early as Christmas but it s undeniable that we have been punished for national issues. "I congratulate the Greens on a good campaign. I would like to think we are as graceful in defeat as we are in victory."
But, ultimately, it was a day for the Greens.
Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP and the party's leader, said: "Lessons have been learnt from our successful campaign last year. The secret of our success was to identify a strategy.
"We are a party of limited resources and it s important to target areas. That has been done once again very successfully in this election." Can the Green Party make a difference in Brighton and Hove? Tell us what you think by writing to our letters page, emailing email@example.com or commenting below. Don't miss your weekend Argus for unrivalled coverage opf the local elections across Sussex.
There is full reaction, gossip from the counts and a full list of results.
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