Leeds local election: A night of ups and downs - but Labour tightens its grip on city

It was a strange night of ups and downs for all the parties at Leeds Civic Hall, as everything seemed to change - and yet, at the end, it pretty much stayed the same.

In a night of many individual gains and losses, several seats changed hands, but Labour ultimately gained three seats overall to tighten its grip on Leeds City Council.

The other changes across the city helped Labour increase its overall majority from 17 to 23.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Tories also gained three seats.

But it was a bad night for the Lib Dems, who lost two seats each to Labour and the Tories, although there was some comfort in taking one from Labour in Rothwell.

The Green party also lost one seat to Labour in its previous Farnley and Wortley stronghold.

Labour now holds 61 seats of the total 99 in the city. The Tories have 22, Liberal Democrats 6, Green Party 2, Morley Borough Independents 5 and the Garforth and Swillington Indpendents 3.

4 May 2018. Local election vote count for Leeds at First Direct Arena. Newly elected Beeston and Holbeck councillors, from the left, Gohar Almas, Angela Gabriel and Andrew Scopes with Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn.

The latter group had perhaps the most stunning individual victory of the night.

The breakaway party, formed by two Labour defectors, has now wiped out the red rose in that part of the city, as leader and former cabinet member Mark Dobson delivered huge numbers to wipe out Labour in the area.

In a stinging victory speech, he said: “”The people of Garforth and Swillington have voted to save their community. It’s as simple as that. “

“Labour have been wiped off the face of Garforth and Swillington, and rightly so.

4 May 2018. Local elections vote counting for Leeds at First Direct Arena.

“The vote today has been one for community over politics.”

Despite the setback, it was a good night overall for the ruling Labour group.

It won back three other seats from defectors in Crossgates and Whinmoor, Killingbeck and Seacroft and Ardsley and Robin Hood.

It also won two seats from the Lib Dems in Weetwood.

Labour’s worst performance was in Pudsey, where it lost two seats to the Tories and cabinet transport and regeneration chief Richard Lewis came within about 80 votes of being booted out and suffering a Labour wipeout.

It was a similar story for the Conservatives, who made three gains overall.

Group leader Andrew Carter hung on to his own seat in the Calverley and Farsley ward, but lost one seat - and veteran councillor Rod Wood - to Labour

Elsewhere, the Tories took two seats in Horsforth to wipe out the previous Lib Dem stronghold.

The Lib Dems made one gain in Rothwell, taking a seat from Labour, but three losses overall.

In Farnley and Wortley, the previous Green Party stronghold was split, with Labour taking one seat.

Labour leader - and leader of the council - Judith Blake, who held on to her own seat in Middleton Park, said: “Overall we’ve gained three seats. I’’m really delighted by the campaign. All of our candidates going out and getting the message out of what Labour in control of Leeds means.”

““We’ve made a very conscious effort of [putting] people at the very heart of what we do.”

“”Cuts are really beginning to have an effect on people now. There’s a real sense of anger.””

Councillor Richard Lewis was circumspect about the losses in Pudsey and suggested it was time for his party to up its game nationally.

“”We are in this bubble where we don’t know what’s going on in the outside world,”” he said.

“”My take is this is about Labour not providing an alternative in Parliament. A proper opposition.

“”At this stage when a Government is in total chaos, Labour should be winning seats hand over first.”

“He added: ”It’s desperately sad that someone like (veteran councillor) Mick Coulson, who has put his heart and soul into Pudsey, should lose his seat.””

Andrew Carter, meanwhile, said that despite the losses, he was pleased with the party’s performance overall, especially in Horsforth, where the Tories now dominate after a 30 year absence.

After the Conservatives took two Pudsey seats, he said: “”I was not surprised we got one, I didn’t expect us to get two.

“And I didn’t expect us to get within 79 [votes] of getting three [seats]. Coun Lewis is a number one target.””

He insisted the party had campaigned on “”absolutely local issues”” and was “”totally positive””.

Here is the new make-up of Leeds City Council after the local election:

Labour: 61 seats (up from 58)

Conservative: 22 seats (up from 19)

Lib Dem: 6 seats (down from 9)

Morley Borough Independents: 5 seats (no change)

Garforth and Swillington Independents Party: 3 seats (up from 2)

Green:: 2 seats (down from 3)