“It’s unbelievable really.” That was the reaction from United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) candidate Pat Hamill after making electoral history in Central Bedfordshire.
He topped the poll for Tithe Farm ward at Houghton Regis with 293 votes, ahead of Labour’s Martin Kennedy on 232.
It is the first seat UKIP has won on Central Bedfordshire Council, as the ruling Conservative group suffered several losses at the local elections.
And Mr Hamill promised to be “outspoken for the community”. He said: “I won’t hold back.
“Houghton Regis deserves a voice, and they will hear my voice. I can make an impact.
“There are certain things I want to see happen in Houghton Regis, regarding anti-social behaviour.
“And I am sure other councillors from different parties have a desire to share a common ambition to make Central Beds a safer place.”
The seat was vacated by Labour’s Tony Swain.
There was more drama in Flitwick where Conservative councillor Fiona Chapman, who chairs CBC, lost her seat.
The former High Sheriff of Bedfordshire saw her seat taken by Independent candidate Gareth Mackey, who was “absolutely elated” with the outcome.
“It’s wonderful that people came out to choose a different option for Flitwick,” he said.
“I intend to make good on the mandate that I have received.”
Paying tribute to councillor Chapman, he added: “I have a lot of respect for Fiona Chaman.
“She has served the town with great passion and integrity.
“I am sorry I have to be the one to end that. But it’s a vote for the future. I wish her all the best.”
Independents Adam Zerny and Tracey Wye cruised to victory in Potton, both polling more than 2,000 votes.
On the overall picture for Central Beds, Councillor Zerny said: “Independents across Central Beds have achieved remarkable results today.
“They’ve shown what voters want is candidates who work hard for their communities and tell them what is going on.
“All 13 Independents will now be working hard to be the eyes and ears of residents and to hold the council to account.”
The Conservatives saw their majority on the council slashed from 44 to 23 as well as losing their chairman and other long-serving councillors.
Council leader James Jamieson was re-elected comfortably in his Westoning, Flitton and Greenfield seat with a 762 majority. He topped the poll with 1,105 votes.
But Tory councillor Budge Wells lost his Aspley and Woburn seat by 1,315 votes to Independent candidate John Baker, who received 1,686 votes.
And the Conservatives lost both seats at Toddington, where long-serving Tom Nicols was defeated, along with Gary Tubb.
Independents Silvia Collins and Mary Walsh both polled over 1,000 votes to secure their position on the new council.
Councillor Nicols came third with 806 votes.
There was better news for the ruling group in the two Leighton Buzzard wards.
Ray Berry, David Bowater and Amanda Dodwell were re-elected in Leighton Buzzard South, while Ken Ferguson, Brian Spurr and newcomer Ewan Wallace led the way in Leighton Buzzard North.
All six Leighton Buzzard Conservatives received more than 1,000 votes.
In Linslade, sitting Tory councillor Gordon Perham was re-elected, but the other two seats were lost to Liberal Democrat Peter Snelling and to Independent candidate Victoria Harvey.
She recently made headlines when losing a High Court challenge over Leighton Linslade Town Council’s changes to market fees.
A judge ruled the council had no duty to consult traders, but did so anyway.
Experienced Conservative councillors Nigel Young and Eugene Ghent had comfortable majorities in Dunstable Watling ward, both polling more than 1,000 votes.
Councillor Ghent had switched seats within the town for this election.
Another current Conservative executive member Carole Hegley was re-elected at Dunstable Central polling 573 votes.
But it was a little close for comfort for sitting Conservative councillor David McVicar, who squeezed in by eight votes in Dunstable icknield.
His Tory colleague John Chatterley topped the poll there with 641 votes.
Sitting councillor Kevin Collins was returned in Caddington ward for the Conservatives, along with party colleague Eddie Perry.
Tony Brown and Mark Liddiard held their seats in Shefford for the Tories.
Cranfield and Marston Moretaine returned the three sitting Conservative councillors Sue Clark, Ken Matthews and Robert Morris.
Likewise at Arlesey, deputy council leader Richard Wenham and his two Tory colleagues Ian Dalgarno and David Shelvey retained their seats.
And it was a similar story in Stotfold and Langford with Tories Steve Dixon and Brian Saunders joined by newcomer Nicola Harris.
But the Tories lost a seat in Ampthill where Mike Blair and Paul Duckett were re-elected, but Independent Mark Smith topped the poll with 2,135 votes.
A closely fought Dunstable Northfields ward saw Conservatives Johnson Tamara and Gladys Sanders emerge the victors.
And there was a Tory casualty in Peter Smith at Sandy, where party colleagues Tracey Stock and Caroline Maudlin were re-elected.
Biggleswade North remained Tory as Steven Watkins was re-elected with newcomer Ian Bond.
But the party lost a seat in Biggleswade South. Mark Foster topped the poll there, but Independent Hayley Whitaker took the second seat.
Independent councillor Alison Graham retained her seat at Silsoe and Shillington with 1,192 votes.
Newcomer Bec Hares was another Independent to enjoy success by gaining the most votes in Houghton Conquest and Haynes.
Independent Ian Shingler was returned in Barton-le-Clay.
Philip Spicer led the way in Eton Bray for the Tories, party colleague Frank Firth was returned in Northill, while Philip Crawley clinched the Dunstable Manshead seat.
One of the first results was Parkside at Houghton Regis which was retained by Labour’s Toni Ryan, who now finds herself the party’s only representative on the council.
There are now 41 Conservative councillors, 13 Independents, three Liberal Democrats, one Labour councillor and one for UKIP.