LABOUR'S unpopularity has now "bottomed out" in Swindon said one the town's MPs after disappointment at the ballot box.

North Swindon's Michael Wills said there is no evidence that Labour will continue to slide in the polls.

The ruling Conservatives picked up five seats at the council election on Thurs-day night, giving them a majority of 40 within the 59-seat chamber.

Three seats came at the expense of the Labour Party.

Both Mr Wills and Swin-don South MP Anne Snelgrove represent marginal seats.

Labour were left with a 2,571 majority in North Swindon and a majority of 1,353 in South Swindon.

But Mr Wills, pictured above, says that the current composition in Swindon is now no worse for Labour than after the 2004 local elections.

He said: "It wasn't a good result. It is disappointing we lost a couple of seats by a handful of votes.

"But the Tories haven't improved. It is exactly the same as in 2004."

He admitted the scandal over the Home Office's failure to deport foreign criminals and the row over NHS job losses had lost Labour votes in Swindon.

But he believes John Prescott's affairs had not been so important.

He added: "No one really mentioned John Prescott to me at all. The Home Office was an issue.

"The health service was a problem but people can see that it is better."

Mrs Snelgrove agreed that national issues had lead to Swindon Labour councillors losing their seats.

"It was the three mini-crises it was one after the other.

"I have to say though, that although it was not good for us, it wasn't meltdown in Swindon," she said.

Both MPs agree that Prime Minister Tony Blair should not name a date for his hand-over to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

But Mrs Snelgrove warned that the support from loyalist Labour MPs will slip away unless future policies make an impact.

She added: "He should resist calls to name a date because it would be a huge distraction. He needs to be resolute. I feel impatient with ministers and I feel they now need to get things right."

Big boost for Tories

THERE is a real spring in the step of the Conservative party in Swindon following Thursday's election.

But Coun Justin Tomlinson (Con, Abbey Meads) said this is where the hard work really starts.

"We want to continue to see improvements in the council and having achieved a two star status we now want to get it up to three stars," he said.

They will also be working towards making the council more efficient and looking to lower council tax.

The regeneration of the town centre is also one of their top priorities for the next four years.

"A lot of sites in the town have already faced the bulldozer, so it is important we carry on with the work that has already started," said Coun Tomlinson.

"We are keen to put Swindon firmly on the cultural map," he said.

"And a lot of the newly-elected councillors joining us have the skills to make this happen."