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."
Regardless of the result in Thursday's election, Northamptonshire will have fewer county councils because of boundary changes.
The Tories have been sent a warning in their traditional Essex heartland, losing nine county council seats to a bullish UKIP.
Suffolk County Council has been Conservative-controlled since 2005. On Thursday there were elections for 75 councillors.