The Conservatives have retained two seats on Breckland Council in by-elections held yesterday, while the UK Independence Party out-polled Labour and the Liberal Democrats in one contest.

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Four candidates contested the Harling and Heathlands seat vacated by Kay Fisher last month.

Marion Chapman-Allen (Conservative), a sitting Norfolk County Councillor, received 453 votes, followed by Denis Crawford (UKIP) on 184 votes and Stephen Green (Labour) on 168. Steve Gordon, who came second for the Lib Dems in the 2010 South West Norfolk parliamentary election, was last with 129 votes.

When the seat was contested in last year’s district council elections, the two Conservative candidates each won more than double the number of votes received by the sole Labour candidate.

Sunny weather helped push turnout to 27.6pc, compared to just 16.8pc in last week’s by-election in nearby Attleborough Queens.

In the Mid Forest ward, which covers several villages south of Swaffham, former policeman Mike Nairn (Conservative) beat Labour candidate Alexander Vyse in a two-horse race by 257 votes to 151. Turnout was 25.17pc.

The election was triggered when Bernard English, who was elected unopposed last year, resigned because of ill health. Mr English died earlier this month.

The contests had given Labour the opportunity to regain their position as the main opposition group on Breckland Council, which they lost following the resignation of Carl Clark from the party last month and the formation of a formal Independent Group.

The results leave Breckland Council with 47 Conservatives, four Independents and three Labour.

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