Labour control of Leeds council weakens - with one high-profile loss

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Labour held onto control of Leeds City Council, albeit with a reduced majority, at this year’s local elections.

Following an intense evening of vote-counting, Leeds returned a weakened Labour administration, with the party losing four seats to the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

Labour's Richard Lewis moments after his defeat to Tory Trish Smith.

Labour's Richard Lewis moments after his defeat to Tory Trish Smith.

The most high-profile casualty of the evening was Pudsey councillor Richard Lewis (Lab), the authority’s portfolio holder for Transport, who lost out to Conservative newcomer Trish Smith.

Leeds council election results in full
Other losses for Labour included both Weetwood and Rothwell to the Liberal Democrats and Farnley & Wortley to the Green Party.

But it could have been worse for Labour, as it managed to hold on to some of its narrow battleground seats.

Following the count, leader of the Labour group in Leeds Judith Blake said: “It’s always the hardest thing to lose valued councillors who have worked so hard for the constituents they represent.

“It is when we are in a situation such as now when we are being punished locally – people are feeling anger and frustration.

“We still run the city and we have fantastic councillors.”

She added: “Losing someone with the experience of Richard, who lives and breathes Labour values, is not easy. There will be people who are very upset that he has lost his seat – he has been a tower of strength through decisions that we have been forced to take though austerity.”

Leeds council election pictures show the night's wins and losses
But while Coun Blake remained upbeat, Conservatives deputy leader Alan Lamb was quick to praise the Tories’ gain in Pudsey.

“It’s a fantastic result,” he said. “It’s truly deserved for our candidate too – we have done better than people had expected, and it has been a disaster tonight for Labour.

“We have not had a great night nationally, but again, it has been terrible for Labour.”

The Liberal Democrats were the big winners of the night, taking its total of seats to eight, with two gains from Labour.

Group leader Stewart Golton said: “We can say we have come out tonight buoyed by these results, taking seats in two difficult parts of the city to win.

“I would like to see us back to where we were but it depends on the people of Leeds wanting us on board. We have also increased our vote in other parts of the city.”

The results leave Labour with 57 seats, still seven seats above the 50 needed for a controlling majority on the council.

Victorious Pudsey Conservative candidate Trish Smith said she was overjoyed to win the seat, but was keen to pay tribute to her predecessor.

She said: “We missed out on this seat last year by about 80 votes, so we realised it would be close.

“We have been lucky to beat Richard (Lewis). He has given a lot of years of service to the ward and he is very well known.

“So we are pleased to have won and we hope that we can serve the people of Pudsey well.

“It’s not really sunk in yet – the feeling is a mixture of euphoria and terror!”

Greens candidate Ann Forsaith brought her party’s tally of seats on the council to three – and a full set in Farnley and Wortley.

She said: “I am very chuffed – we now have a full green team.

“People know they have green councillors who are hard working and they can rely on them to support their communities.

“There has been a loss of support in the two main parties.”

It was a night of consolidation for the city’s independent councillors, with the Morley Borough Independents holding onto their seats in Morley North and Morley South, while the Garforth & Swillington Independents also kept a full set of councillors in the ward.

But it wasn’t all bad news for Labour, as the party held on to both Ardsley & Robin Hood; and Calverley & Farsley – two seats other parties had fought hard to win. Calverley and Farsley’s Labour incumbent Peter Carlill held onto his seat by just 27 votes, following two recounts.

There were also wins for Labour newcomers Mirelle Midgley, Abigail Marshall Katung and Lou Cunningham, who all replaced retiring Labour councillors.

Nicole Sharpe also won Temple Newsam for Labour – making it the first time a ward in the city had three female councillors from the same party.