Huge Leeds election success for Garfoth independents - but colleagues fall short

Mark Dobson, right.
Mark Dobson, right.

The future of Leeds is independent, according to the councillor who won more votes than anyone at the local election in Leeds - despite allies failing to take target seats.

Former Labour cabinet chief Mark Dobson, now of the Garforth and Swillington Independents, scored a whopping 5,377 votes in the ward after defecting last year.

Following his win this morning, he took to the First Direct Arena stage with a scathing speech about Labour’s ruling of Leeds City Council.

He said Labour had been “wiped off the face” of the ward because of “massive, unsustainable house-building plans” and cuts to services.

“The vote today has been one for community over politics,” he told the audience.

“And the people of Garforth and Swillington, and Great and Little Preston, have spoken in huge numbers tonight to send a warning to the Labour council - get your act together, and get it together quickly, because let me tell you something, tonight isn’t the end of a movement, it’s the start of a movement.”

Speaking after his speech, he said: “As a former Labour councillor, I left on lines of principle. I think I’ve been vindicated in that move.”

His party colleagues Sarah Field, a fellow defector, and Suzanne McCormack were also elected to the ward with a combined 9,099 votes. Coun Judith Blake, the authority’s Labour leader, said: “I don’t want to respond to his agenda. It’s absolutely rubbish”, adding: “There was a great deal of talk about an independent movement across the city – it was not an agenda that people responded to at all.”

Labour defector and East Leeds Independent Janette Walker’s Cross Gates and Whinmoor seat was snapped up by new blood Jessica Lennox.

And Jack Dunn, a veteran Ardsley and Robin Hood member of 22 years who defected to become an independent, did not hold his post.

Catherine Dobson also failed to get elected in Killingbeck and Seacroft for the East Leeds Independents.

There was a surge in independent votes in Beeston and Holbeck, threatening the Labour stronghold.

But it appeared that the Save Our Beeston and Holbeck Independents fielding three candidates split the vote, meaning not one was elected to the ward.

Bill Birch, Sean Sturman and Laura Walton won a combined 3,800 votes, but each Labour candidate got comfortably more than 2,000 each.