There were few surprises in Breckland’s 12 Norfolk County Council battlegrounds as election results poured in on Friday - no seats changed hands.

While Labour were hoping for gains in Dereham South and Thetford East, both remained Conservative.

Victorious Conservative incumbent Phillip Duigan said: “I’m very glad the people of Dereham South have put their confidence in me again, and obviously I’ve got to return that confidence.”

Asked what factors contributed to his victory, Mr Duigan said that the lack of face-to-face canvassing may have meant that people were voting on the basis of “past reputations”.

He also pointed to national reasons.

“I think you could say that the Conservatives have had a little bit of a vaccine boost, I think that’s fair to say,” said Mr Duigan.

“Most people have thought there are rather more important issues in the world to deal with today than what curtains the prime minister’s girlfriend wants,” he added.

In a message to his supporters, defeated Labour challenger Harry Clarke said: “I got more votes than when I last stood in this seat [in 2017], but I’m sorry I won’t be representing you as your county councillor for Dereham South.

“I missed out by 155 votes and halved the sitting councillor’s majority - not bad, as I was shielding,” he added.

In Thetford East, Conservative town and district councillor Jane James was elected to fill the shoes of retired Roy Brame.

“It was nerve-racking, but it’s really exciting, and it’s such an honour and a privilege that people trust me to represent them,” said Ms James.

Looking at results across the country, Ms James said: “There seems to be quite a sea-change out there, and there’ve been some really fantastic results for the Conservative party, which is wonderful.

"It demonstrates that there is faith in how the pandemic has been handled - I don’t think it’s a job that any of us would have wanted to have, but well done, and let’s keep moving forward,” she added.

Re-elected Labour councillor for Thetford West, Terry Jermy, said: “I’m very pleased - the first two times I stood for Norfolk County Council, I lost - the second time, rather notoriously, losing by one vote, in 2013.

Mr Jermy said winning nearly 57% of the vote was “really encouraging, and quite humbling actually, because it’s not been a terribly good day for the Labour party.”

The results in Breckland were as follows:

ATTLEBOROUGH. Conservative hold.

James Bremner (LAB) 559
Rhodri Oliver (CON) 1,597
Ian Speller (LD) 462
Majority: 1,038
Turnout: 26.38%

DEREHAM NORTH. Conservative hold.
Brendon Bernard (LD) 199
Georgina Bunting (LAB) 618
William Richmond (CON) 1,409
Majority: 791
Turnout: 27.30%

DEREHAM SOUTH. Conservative hold.
Harry Clarke (LAB) 997
Phillip Duigan (CON) 1,152
Jenny Pitchford (LD) 148
Majority: 155
Turnout: 25.84%

ELMHAM AND MATTISHALL. Conservative hold.
Bill Borrett (CON) 2,037
Mark Foley (LD) 332
Tara Harris (LAB) 395
Philip Morton (G) 410
Majority: 1,627
Turnout: 33.88%

GUILTCROSS. Conservative hold.
Stephen Askew (CON) 1,987
Michael Brindle (LAB) 601
Beverly Bulmer (LD) 401
Majority: 1,386
Turnout: 33.71%

NECTON AND LAUNDITCH. Conservative hold.
Jane Keidan-Cooper (G) 452
Mark Kiddle-Morris (CON) 2,099
Joseph Sisto (LAB) 569
Matthew Weatherill (LD) 195
Majority: 1,530
Turnout: 37.33%

SWAFFHAM. Conservative hold.
Paul Auber (LD) 147
Peter Bate (G) 233
Ed Colman (CON) 1,766
John Zielinski (LAB) 428
Majority: 1,338
Turnout: 29.63%

THE BRECKS. Conservative hold.
Fabian Eagle (CON) 2,172
Evie-May Ellis (LD) 170
Anne Rix (G) 291
Stuart Terry (LAB) 415
Majority: 1,757
Turnout: 32.83%

THETFORD EAST. Conservative hold.
Jamie Cash (LD) 114
Denis Crawford (UKIP) 105
Susan Dowling (LAB) 684
Jane James (CON) 967
Majority: 283
Turnout: 24.2%

THETFORD WEST. Labour hold.

Martin Callam (LD) 101
Terry Jermy (LAB) 1,204
Barbara Tullett (CON) 720
Philip Wagstaff (I) 91
Majority: 484
Turnout: 22.18%

WATTON. Conservative hold.

Timothy Birt (G) 380
Claire Bowes (CON) 1,685
James Minto (LD) 154
Keith Prince (LAB) 327
Majority: 1,305
Turnout: 26.07%

YARE AND ALL SAINTS. Conservative hold.

Ulrike Behrendt (LD) 150
Ann Bowyer (G) 310
Edward Connolly (CON) 1,724
Paul Siegert (LAB) 370
Maj: 1,354
Turnout: 31.75%

Overall turnout in Breckland was 29.24%