THE Liberal Democrats lost a seat to the Conservatives in the South Lakeland District Council elections today - but they still remain in power with a clear majority.
There were gasps and cheers as 23-year-old Ben Berry swiped the Windermere Applethwaite and Troutbeck seat from long-standing Liberal Democrat councillor Jo Stephenson.
The young Conservative entrepreneur, who owns an internet business in Troutbeck, won with 480 votes - just 12 more than his opponent.
He said he was relieved by the result.
"It was very close and took several recounts. I think the public have shown this election is about the issues and not about the personalities involved because I focused on local needs in my campaign.
"My shoes are worn out from all the walking but it has paid off."
Nineteen seats were up for grabs in today’s election, previously held by eight Liberal Democrats and 11 Conservatives. Liberal Democrats hold the balance of power in South Lakeland District Council with 32 seats while the Conservatives have 18 and Labour one.
However, Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Thornton said the party had lost their seat at Windermere Applethwaite & Troutbeck and ‘had not seen it coming’.
Turnout for the district election was just above 50 per cent.
There was a by-election in Levens,following the death of Brenda Woof, where candidates from Labour, Lib Dems and Conservatives will stand.
And a by-election was also held for the Ambleside and Grasmere. Both seats were retaken by Liberal Democrats.
Ambleside & Grasmere:
Raymond Edward Lane Conservative 582. Marilyn Molloy Labour and Co-Operative 159. Vivienne Rees Liberal Democrat 941 won.
Ambleside and Grasmere (by-elections):
Heidi Halliday Liberal Democrat 811 won. Neil Salisbury Conservative 516. Arnside & Beetham Jim Barker Labour 147. Gordon Fairclough Conservative 786. Ian Stewart Liberal Democrat 1,279 won.
Joss Whineray Curwen Conservative 750 won. Gary McClure Liberal Democrat 239.
Colin Bell Conservative 250. Chris Holland Liberal Democrat 526 won. Lois Katherine Sparling Labour 61.
Burton & Holme:
Vic Brown Liberal Democrat 857. Brian Cooper Conservative 939 won. Cartmel & Grange West Ian Curwen Conservative 319. Mary Wilson Liberal Democrat 604 won.
Andrew Paul Gardiner Conservative 594 won. Barbara McCaffrey Liberal Democrat 428.
Tom Harvey Conservative 529 won. Dorothy Lownds Liberal Democrat 454.
Gill Gardner Liberal Democrat 516 won. Trevor Wilson Conservative 415.
Grenville Evans Conservative 472. Mary Orr Liberal Democrat 667 won. Tony Rothwell Labour 58.
James Airey Conservative 437 won. Ray Beecham Liberal Democrat 132. Jo-anna Clare Duncalf Green Party 100.
Doreen Fell Conservative 648. Chris Loynes Green Party 62. Colin Pickthall Labour 262. Janet Willis Liberal Democrat 694 won.
Sedbergh & Kirkby Lonsdale:
Jules Drummond-Hay Conservative 1,323. Evelyn Westwood Liberal Democrat 1,424 won.
Mel Mackie Conservative 300. Peter Thornton Liberal Democrat 512 won.
Windermere Applethwaite & Troutbeck:
Ben Berry Conservative 480 won. Jo Stephenson Liberal Democrat 468.
Windermere Bowness North:
Kathleen Deidre Cross Labour 47. Michael Patrick Nicholson Conservative 280. Hilary Stephenson Liberal Democrat 608 won.
Windermere Bowness South:
Rae Cross Labour 43. Stephen Rooke Liberal Democrat 331. David Lewis Williams Conservative 376 won.
Sandra Britton Liberal Democrat 537 won. Stephen James Hall Conservative 117. Penny Henderson Labour 114.