THE Tories held on to Worcester City Council last night as voters kept the status quo in the city.

The Conservatives maintained their one-seat majority in Worcester as people turned out in force to make their vote count

Wards such as Claines (49 per cent) and Battenhall (43.1 per cent) saw a high turnout which bucked the national trend.

Leading Conservative councillors said national headlines over the scandal involving Deputy Prime Minster John Prescott, the furore surrounding Home Secretary Charles Clarke and growing anger at Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had helped them hang on to power. Conservative leader on the city council Stephen Inman said: "I am

very pleased with how the night has gone.

"I am also completely ecstatic about all the Conservative candidates, who have kept their seats tonight.

"This shows people in this city have confidence in what we are doing and have given us their vote again."

Former mayor Allah Dittah said: "We think national headlines have affected the opposition.

"We expected the turnout to be abysmal but early indications are that there has been quite a high turnout, much bigger than expected."

Labour leader Adrian Gregson agreed the national scandals could have had an impact locally and a lot of votes had gone to minor parties.

He said: "It seems there has been a reaction against the Government and what's been going on the last 10 days or so.

"It's bound to have some impact but we don't know what impact yet."

Going in to last night's city council election, where a third of the 35 seats were up for grabs, the Conservatives had 18 members at the Guildhall.

Labour were the second strongest party with 10, followed by four Independents and three Liberal Democrats.

The first seat to declare was Rainbow Hill at about 10.10pm where Labour's Paul Denham retained his seat.