CHESHIRE West and Chester council leader Mike Jones is planning the second term he has always sought but only with a slimline majority and a far stronger opposition.
The astonishing results of the election in May 2008 ahead of the creation of the new council gave the Tories a massive lead of 38 on the then 72 seat authority.
This will quickly become history as Labour leader Cllr Derek Bateman (Ellesmere Port Town) marches his new 32-strong group into the Winsford council chamber for the first time - only weeks after the previous 13 strong opposition walked out protesting their voice was not being heard.
Faced with the prospect of ekeing out a majority of just nine over the next four years, Cllr Jones will need help from the new group whip he will have to appoint after losing his previous whip, mid Cheshire councillor George Miller, chairman of Connexions, who was targeted by Labour.
Although Tory gains elsewhere in the country bypassed Cheshire West and Chester and despite Labour jubilation, Cllr Jones still has the upper hand in the council chamber and in the ruling Tory Executive which has survived mostly intact.
Culture and recreation chief Richard Short, previously a Chester candidate, was beaten by Labour in Little Neston and Burton while children's services portfolio holder Arthur Harada (Con) was not a candidate.
Having created the now £850m authority from scratch with his new chief executive Steve Robinson and achieved savings marching past £50m with a zero increase in council tax this year, Cllr Jones will be keen to use the next four years to build on his aspirations for the council and for the borough.
Apart from aiming to be the best council in the country, Cheshire West and Chester has ambitious regeneration schemes, including Ellesmere Port which Cllr Jones will want to drive forward along with further efficiencies in the council and the first phases of his multi-million-pound vision for new capital spending to improve facilities for West Cheshire people.
Cllr Jones felt the boundary changes favoured Labour and cost the Conservatives at least eight seats.
Although the turnout this time round at 45% was lower than the 54% three years ago, election gurus will be poring over the effect of the 46 new wards, an increase of 22.
The Tory administration favoured wards with two and three councillors but Parliament agreed a mix of one, two and three member wards recommended by the Local Government Boundary Commission in London after consultations in the borough.
Labour and the Lib Dems backed wards with just a single councillor which they argued had been proposed in the original bid document for the new council.
Labour's share rose by almost 10,000 votes to 69,829 while the Lib Dem vote slumped by almost 50% from 43,543 to 22,223.
Cllr Bateman was re-elected in the Ellesmere Port Town ward along with Labour resources spokesman Justin Madders, a former Ellesmere Port and Neston borough leader who saw partner Nicole Mearden win in Sutton.
In Ledsham and Manor, one former Ellesmere Port and Neston mayor, Graham Smith (Con), vice chairman of the fire authority, was defeated by another, Labour's Keith Butcher.
The poll there was topped by Ellesmere Port mayor Gareth Anderson (Con) although the Anderson family involvement in the council was dramatically reduced with the defeat of his father Brian Anderson and sister Kimberley in St Paul’s and Sutton.
Cllr Anderson will take comfort from the decisive rejection of AV in Cheshire West having delivered an eloquent speech opposing the change at a recent council meeting.
But as he drives down the A41 he will see red with familiar Ellesmere Port and Neston opposition faces Angela Claydon, Mark Henesy and Paul Donovan occupying seats stretching from St Paul’s through Sutton to Strawberry apart from Cllr Butcher in his own ward.
Labour deputy leader Pat Merrick was returned in Rossmore, seeing off Kenny Spain standing as a Socialist Labour candidate with Tony Sherlock taking Grange for Labour.
Newcomer Diane Roberts won for Labour in Netherpool.
Another Labour newcomer, Ben Powell teams up with Angela Claydon in St Paul’s while Labour whip Paul Donovan was re-elected in Sutton with Ms Mearden.
Voters in Whitby split and returned Bob Crompton for the Tories and Labour’s Brian Jones, a former borough and county councillor.
The ward saw the defeat of Kathy Lord (Con) and an unsuccessful bid by former borough councillor Abdul Jilani for Labour.
Strawberry saw the return of former Ellesmere Port and Neston planning chairman Mark Henesy, elected with almost 50% of the vote.
In Neston, Scott Mealor (Con) was defeated by Labour's Andy Williams, a Neston town councillor and a former Ellesmere Port and Neston borough councillor.