Tories increase their strength overall as Labour wiped out.

VOTERS delivered lethal blows to leading figureheads in the Rother District Council elections.

OUT goes council chairman-elect and sole Labour member, Rye stalwart Sam Souster. Top of the poll in 2003 - he is bottom this time.

OUT goes Bexhill Town Mayor Cllr Eric Armstrong. With two days before his Mayoral Ball, he was fifth out of six candidates fighting two-seat Old Town Ward.

OUT goes Bexhill Town Mayor-elect Keith Bridger. He and his wife Helen fought Labour stronghold Sidley as Independents having quit Rother's Labour group. The move split the Labour vote resulting in a Conservative take-over by Jim Carroll and Robert Wheeler.

OUT goes veteran Bexhill Conservative Peter Fairhurst. The former Town Mayor looses his St Michael's Ward place to Liberal Democrat county councillor Martyn Forster.

Out by two votes, after three re-counts, went veteran Liberal Democrat John Kemp who looses his Crowhurst seat to Conservative newcomer Aneharad Davies.

OUT goes Tory cabinet member Bob White, third in a five-way fight for Battle's two Rother seats to Liberal Democrats Kevin Dixon and Kathryn Field.

Five of Bexhill's nine wards were counted overnight. The remainder of Rother's 20 wards were counted this morning, the last result - Salehurst - coming at noon with George Hearn hanging on to one seat for the Liberal Democrats by seven votes and party leader Sue Prochak topping the ward poll.

The Conservatives entered the election with a massive Rother majority, 25 seats to the Liberal Democrats' six, five independents and one Labour with one vacancy.

By noon today the score stood at Conservatives 28 (up three), Liberal Democrats eight (up two), independents two (down three) and Labour with no representation.

The Conservative group meets on Friday to elect a leader in succession to Graham Gubby who did not stand for re-election. Contenders are deputy leader Robin Patten, cabinet member Brian Kentfield and scrutiny committee chairman Carl Maynard.