ANDOVER’S Conservatives are celebrating after winning four seats at the borough council elections.

The result of last Thursday’s ballot has reversed the 2019 swing which saw the Andover Alliance make large gains.

This puts the party firmly back in the driving seat at Test Valley Borough Council, strengthening its overall majority with four new representatives.

Jan Budzynski (Conservative, St Mary’s) and Jim Neal (Conservative, Millway) have been re-elected as borough councillors after losing their seats during the Alliance’s surge two years ago.

The scandal-hit party, headed up by outgoing Andover mayor, Richard Rowles, split after it was hit by a number of resignations in its first year and incidents of political infighting.

It chose not to contest these elections, with Richard Rowles telling the Advertiser earlier this year that it was “irresponsible” to hold a poll in a pandemic.

Their absence meant that the Andover Conservatives’ main rivals in the four borough council by-elections were the Lib Dems, who they comfortably beat for all positions.

The Andover Independents, who spun out of the Andover Alliance, also stood in a number of seats but did not win any.

Also newly elected are Mike Maltby and Terese Swain, who will represent Chilworth, Nursling & Rownhams in the south of the borough. They are filling the shoes of late Councillors Nigel Anderdon and Alison Finlay who sadly passed away.

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Cllr Phil North, said he was “delighted” at the results, writing: “While the national picture looks extremely positive for my party, this is also an endorsement of the work we’ve been doing locally.”

And Cllr North had an additional reason to be cheerful, after winning the election to represent Andover South at Hampshire County Council.

This means the leader will now hold three positions in public office, with allowances for his job as a borough councillor (£7,036 a year), borough council leader (£13,339) and now a county councillor (£12,833). From September, his borough council allowances will rise to £7,390 and £16,258 respectively.

He joins his wife, Cllr Kirsty North, who was re-elected as a county councillor and remains as a borough councillor too.

There were no major changes in this year’s county council elections with the Conservatives holding 56 seats out of a possible 78. The Liberal Democrats remain the largest opposition party with 17 seats.

Meanwhile, Conservative Donna Jones won the Police and Crime Commissioner ballot.

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