Local Elections: Small groups hold balance in hung city

LABOUR lost three seats and control of Sheffield Council yesterday, with no party claiming overall power.

Labour remains the largest party by two seats but the council is now a hung authority which will see a battle with the Liberal Democrats in a bid for leadership.

Conservative Coun Anne Smith, Independent Martin Davis and Green Party representatives Coun Jillian Creasy and Bernard Little will play a big part as they decide which party to back.

After three nailbiting recounts and a tense day at the count in the sports hall of Ponds Forge Leisure Centre, the Lib Dems were celebrating increasing their share of the council's 84 seats by gaining hold of four wards.

They took from Labour control of the Hillsborough, Gleadless Valley and Walkley wards, the latter by just 36 votes.

Lib Dem Coun Michael Davis took the Dore and Totley seat from Conservative Coun Caroline Cooper by more than 1,000 votes.

There were 28 council seats up for election, a third of the seats.

Labour had 44 seats with a majority of four and knew a hung council would be inevitable if they lost two seats or more.

The Lib Dems had 35 seats while the Conservatives had two, the Green Party two and one seat for Independent.

The result means no party has complete control of the city and discussions will take place between parties in an attempt to form an administration.

Speaking after the results were declared, the leader of the Lib Dems, Coun Paul Scriven, said: "We are delighted that the people of Sheffield have spoken for change. It will be a new start for Sheffield and its people. All the parties now have to reflect and work out what's right for the city and work together."

Council leader Jan Wilson, for Labour, said: "We are obviously disappointed we have lost three good councillors. It is clearly a national result. Labour in Sheffield has always worked as hard as we can for the people of the city and that is what we will keep on doing."

The last hung council in the city was in 2002. Conservative leader Coun Anne Smith said: "We have been here before. Every group represented on the council now has to work together."

The Central ward was one to watch with Coun Jillian Creasy from the Green Party holding her seat with Labour missing out by 187 votes.

Overall the Lib Dems held on to Beauchief and Greenhill, Broomhall, Crookes, Ecclesall, Fulwood, Graves, Nether Edge, Stannington, Stocksbridge and Upper Don, and West Ecclesfield.

The party also kept hold of the East Ecclesfield ward, which went to a recount, with a majority of 74 votes.

Labour held on to Arbourthorne, Beighton, Birley, Burngreave, Darnall, Firth Park, Manor Castle, Mosborough, Richmond, Shiregreen and Brightside, Southey, and Woodhouse.

More than 134,000 turned out to vote, 36 per cent of those eligible. Last year's turnout was 34.5 per cent.


LABOUR'S vote in Doncaster remained solid despite a series of controversies surrounding the party's elected mayor and its problems at national level.

Although no party has a majority on the council, Labour has the largest number of councillors after an election which did not deliver any significant change to the authority's make-up.

Labour's senior figures in Doncaster all pronounced themselves satisfied with a set of results which leaves the party with 29 members on the 63-strong council.

The party lost one well-known councillor in Wheatley, Mick Muddiman, beaten by Stephen Coddington for the Liberal Democrats, but gained one in Rossington, where Andrea Milner beat the Community Group's sitting councillor, John Cooke.

The chairman of the Labour group, Mick Jameson, just hung on to his seat in Balby, winning by six votes from the Independent candidate, Mark Thompson.

In Hatfield, party colleague Ken Knight narrowly beat off the challenge of Mick Glynn from the Community Group, which campaigned against a controversial planning application with which elected mayor Martin Winter became involved.

Of the 21 seats up for grabs, Labour won 10, the Liberal Democrats five, the Tories three, Independents two and the Community Group one.

Mayor Winter, whose unpopularity has prompted a referendum on whether Doncaster should continue to have an elected mayor, said the result had been as he expected.

The second largest group on the council, the Liberal Democrats, won one of two seats targeted in what leader Patrick Wilson called a "so-so result".

Coun Wilson, who retained his seat in Town Moor, acknowledged that differences between the parties meant there was little chance of them co-ordinating their potential majority opposition.


THERE were few surprises in Labour stronghold Rotherham, with council leader Roger Stone and his party maintaining their stranglehold on town hall affairs.

The Conservatives did take one seat from Labour in the Wales ward, but comparing the Tories' seven seats on the authority with Labour's massive 54 showed that opposition parties still have a huge mountain to climb. Rotherham has been held by Labour since local government reorganisation in 1973.

Gavin Sharp was the Conservative who took a slender 322 majority in the Wales ward with 1,045 votes, beating Labour candidate Simon Tweed, who polled 723. But the victory was a pinprick to the ruling group, whose majority of 45 stayed intact.

Voters also rejected the campaign of the British National Party, which fielded candidates in six wards but failed to get one elected. However, in three its candidates came second, beating Tories and Lib Dems.

Local Labour MP Denis McShane said Labour had done "better than expected" in holding key marginal council seats in Rotherham but warned over the rise of the BNP. He said Labour should listen to the concerns of its working class voters, especially over housing.


TWO veteran councillors lost their seats in a result that left Labour with a majority of only three in its long-time stronghold of Barnsley.

Council Leader Steve Houghton blamed "strong personal attacks" by the Barnsley Independent Group for ousting Alan Schofield and Alex Vodden, who each had decades of experience.

The Labour group was left with what Coun Houghton described as a "working majority" and he said: "It could have been worse and it could have been better.

"It is a Labour council with a working majority and we will continue to move Barnsley forwards.

"We hope to go into next year's elections in a much stronger position."

He said there had been "strong personal attacks" on the two serving councillors who lost their seats, which had an effect.

The BNP fielded more candidates than ever before in the town and, although none was successful, those in the Central, Dearne North and Darton West wards won enough support to take second place.

The election means Labour now hold 33 seats, with the Barnsley Independent Group on 20, Tories five, Liberal Democrats two and non-aligned councillors three.


EVERY member of North East Derbyshire council was forced to fight for their seat after the entire council was put up for election and, although Labour regained overall control, there was some drama.

In the Ridgeway and Marsh Lane seat, Michael Gordon held on for Labour by just one vote, polling 191 votes to defeat Independent rival, Andrew Dye.

Despite this, the Labour group actually lost seven seats leaving them with 29 of the available 53 seats and a majority of just five. Before the election the party had 36 seats and a majority of 19.

North East Derbyshire, which used to be Derbyshire's coal mining region, has been held by Labour since 1973, apart from a hung council in 1976. Council leader Graham Baxter blamed national issues for the losses.


CONSERVATIVES held on to the former Labour heartland of Bassetlaw, and while they lost one seat in Worksop north-east, the Tories maintained their 28-seat presence by winning Ranskill from the Liberal Democrats.

The Lib Dems' loss meant that they slipped off the district's political map altogether, leaving Bassetlaw with a council made up of Conservatives, Labour and Independents.

Labour , which had ruled in Bassetlaw since 1973 until the council was hung in 2004, lost control of the north Nottinghamshire district last year, when the Conservatives won a majority of eight and took over at Worksop Town Hall. But Labour managed to snatch back a consolation seat at this election, when Simon Greaves took Worksop north-east.

Results in full