Conservatives are celebrating after maintaining their grip on south Essex councils.

Southend, Castle Point, Basildon, Rochford and Thurrock all remained True Blue as the results were declared early today.

However, there was a major upset in Southend which saw council leader Anna Waite ousted as councillor for Prittlewell ward.

Mrs Waite, who fought back tears as the vote was declared, has been a big supporter of plans for a supercasino in Southend which has attracted opposition.

She has also been forced to implement £11million of budget cuts over the past year Her seat was taken by Liberal Democrat Mike Grimwade who polled 1124 votes.

Mrs Waite, a member of the famous Tomassi family, said: "I am obviously upset.

"I have worked hard and have taken difficult decisions but that is not what you have to do to be elected."

The Tories remain in control of Southend Council with 30 seats.

The Lib Dems take over as official opposition with nine seats, Labour has eight and the independent Alliance Southend has four.

The Conservatives also retained control of Thurrock Council.

A challenge from the BNP failed to materialise. Labour gained one seat at the expense of the Tories.

In Rochford, Tories strenghtened their hold by taking the only remaining Labour seat from Maureen Vince.

Tories won every mainland seat in the Castle Point elections last night but they suffered heavy defeats on Canvey.

The Conservatives swept the board in eight mainland seats giving them a firm mandate to carry on with their programme for the borough.

In stark contrast five Conservatives were ousted on Canvey, losing all but one of the six available island seats to the Canvey Independents.