The UK Independence Party is celebrating a strong showing in early results in the county county elections in the Anglia region. UKIP gained 9 councillors in Essex ousting Conservatives who slumped to their worst performance in more than four decades.
Although the party has so far made no gains in Hertfordshire, its share of the vote in many electoral divisions is above 25%.
UKIP's candidate in Old Stevenage Sean Howlett said: "Speaking to the average person on the street they're just sick to death of the tired establishment parties and they want something new, something fresh with a common sense approach to politics."
The out-going leader of Essex County Council Peter Martin said: "On the doorstep we heard a lot of people protesting about the government at a national level and we're suffering obviously as I'm sure the whole country is."
The Conservatives retain control of Hertfordshire County Council although with a reduced majority. Although there are 12 seats to be declared later on Friday, the Tories already have enough councillors to out-vote all the others so they remain in power.
The UKIP breakthrough seen in Essex has not so far materialised although the party was polling 25-30% share of the vote in most divisions. UKIP took 35% of the vote in Bishop's Stortford Rural but the Conservative candidate was 286 votes ahead.
The Conservatives are still in power on Essex County Council but they've been severely battered by Labour and UKIP gains. The Tories retain a working majority but their share of their vote fell below 35% - their worst showing in the county for more than four decades.
Although Labour gained eight councillors on their position at the last election in 2009 it was UKIP who surged ahead. The anti-EU party took the second largest slice of the popular vote with 27% of all votes.
The Lib Dems slumped into fourth place behind Labour.
The Greens will be in County Hall for the first time in Essex after winning in Witham and Rochford.
With just three seats yet to declare in Essex, the Conservatives have retained control of Essex County Council but with a severely reduced majority.
UKIP made eight gains and the Greens two. Labour also bounced back after the poor result four years ago.
38 councillors are required for an overall majority in Essex; the Conservatives currently have 40 seats.
UKIP now have seven Essex County Councillors for the following divisions:
- Wickford Crouch
- Laindon Park & Fryerns
- South Benfleet
- Rayleigh South
- Basildon Westley Heights
The surge in support for the anti-EU party will severely dent the Conservative majority on the council which was the safest Tory council in the Anglia region.
UKIP have gained Brightlingsea bringing their total council seats in Essex to four.
At the last County Council election the party didn't win a single seat in Essex and had a 3% share across the county.
The former Labour MP for Harwich Ivan Henderson has made up for the loss of his parliamentary seat by winning the County Council seat of the same name.
Mr Henderson who was the MP from 1997 until 2007 ousted Conservative councillor Ricky Callender.
UKIP have gained their third seat on Essex County Council taking another seat from the Conservatives.
Alan Bayley has a majority of 242 over the Conservatives who came second.
The latest gain is South Benfleet after the party won Westley Heights in Basildon and Rayleigh South.
The Green Party have their first councillor on Essex County Council.
Michael Hoy polled 39% of the vote in Rochford West to take win the previously Conservative-held seat. The Tories had 31% of the vote while UKIP took 21%.
With 25 of the 77 divisions in Hertfordshire declared this is the current share of the vote:
Conservative - 39%
Labour - 26%
UKIP - 13%
Lib Dem - 13%
Green - 6%