IT was all change at Waverley Borough Council on Friday, as the council’s ruling Conservative group lost its majority in spectacular fashion to a rainbow coalition of parties, residents and independents.
After a remarkable election count, that began at 9.30am and was the second last UK council to declare its final result at 8.30pm, Waverley now counts in its ranks: 23 Conservatives, 15 Farnham Residents, 14 Lib Dems, two each of Labour and Green, and one independent.
The first result to declare - the Haslemere Surrey County Council by-election - set the tone, with independent Nikki Barton storming to victory by a huge margin over her Tory and Labour rivals.
But what followed was nothing short of a massacre.
As the Farnham results came in, seat by seat long-time Conservative strongholds fell to Farnham Residents and - in the case of Weybourne and Badshot Lea - the Liberal Democrats.
As the dust settled, it revealed that just one small pocket of blue remained in Farnham - with long-serving town council leader Carole Cockburn holding on in The Bourne after Farnham Residents put forward just one councillor to contest the wards’ two seats.
A slither of good news followed for the Tories as it held the rural wards of Ewhurst and Blackheath and Wonersh - showing the party still reigned supreme outside of the towns.
But it was only a short respite, as the Lib Dems picked up two of three seats on offer in Cranleigh East and then truly made their presence felt in Godalming.
Paul Follows, going into the election as Waverley’s sole Lib Dem, held his seat by a huge margin and was joined by a fellow Lib Dem in Godalming Central and Ockford.
Then something remarkable happened. A Labour candidate was elected to Waverley Borough Council - with ex-Nottingham MP Nick Palmer adding a splash of red in Godalming Binscombe, joined by Lib Dem Paul Rivers.
The Green Party took their first seat in the next ward, Godalming Charterhouse, with Steve Cosser just holding on to the Tories other seat in the ward ahead of Labour.
Further Lib Dem and Labour seats were picked up in Godalming Farncombe & Catteshall, and Godalming Holloway. While Milford also fell to a Lib Dem and independent.
Village wards in Cranleigh West, Elstead & Thursley, Witley & Hambledon, Frensham Tilford & Dockenfield, and Chiddingfold & Dunsfold held for the Tories.
But it wasn’t all blue news in the villages, as the Greens picked up their second seat in Bramley Busbridge & Hascombe.
Haslemere results began with a triple-win whitewash for the Lib Dems in Critchmere and Shottermill - countered by a triple-win for the Tories in Haslemere East & Grayswood.
But as the count wound down to a close - there was still time for a dramatic finale.
After three recounts, Geoff Whitby (Lib Dem) and Peter Isherwood (Con) were tied in second in Hindhead. So five ballots were marked for each candidate and returning officer Tom Horwood drew the winning ballot for Peter Isherwood.
It leaves Waverley a hung council, with no one party claiming a majority. The Tories can lay claim to the leadership of the council as the largest party, but are likely to face challenges by Farnham Residents, possibly in partnership with the ‘Progressive Alliance’ of the Lib Dems, Labour and Greens.
The counting of votes in Waverley's town and parish council elections is due to commence at 9.30am on Saturday.
See next week’s Herald for the full results and analysis of the most remarkable election in Waverley Borough Council’s history.