Yorkshire local election results 2021: Labour retain control of Doncaster and Wakefield councils but suffer losses

Labour lost seven seats in Wakefield at the local elections in a bracing day for the party.
Doncaster MarketDoncaster Market
Doncaster Market

Labour still retained its overall control of Wakefield Council, but has seen its majority cut to 11.

They now have 43 of the council’s 63 seats, with the Tory opposition’s six gains boosting their numbers to 17.

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The Conservatives won Ossett, Pontefract South and Wrenthorpe and Outwood West from Labour.

They later took big scalps in the Ackworth, North Elmsall and Upton and Crofton, Ryhill and Walton. Both were won by painfully narrow margins after recounts in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The council’s Cabinet member for health, Faith Heptinstall, lost her seat in Crofton, Ryhill and Walton.

The Tories had earlier claimed a huge scalp in Wakefield East, which has been safe Labour territory for decades. That was overwhelmingly the shock result of the election.

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Labour’s only gain was in Airedale and Ferry Fryston, though the party will have been pleased to hold onto Tory target seats such as Horbury and South Ossett and Stanley and Outwood East. They also comfortably held onto wards such as Hemsworth, South Elmsall and South Kirkby and Featherstone.

Normanton and Altofts and Whitwood, both of which were vacant seats at the time of the election but had been Labour’s previously, were also retained by the party.

The Liberal Democrats also took a Labour seat in Knottingley in a repeat of their shock triumph in the town in 2019, though they made little impact in the other six wards they contested.

Reacting to the results, Conservative group leader Nadeem Ahmed said: “Locally we’ve run a good campaign. All the candidates have worked together well.

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“Winning Wakefield East is fantastic. All the gains we’ve had are fantastic. As I said at the start of the campaign, Labour aren’t listening to people and this result shows that.

“I think they’ll see we’ve made inroads in areas they wouldn’t have expected us to. It’s a worrying sign for them, but a good sign for us.”

The results were largely a reflection of the nationwide political picture, with Labour having ceded council seats up and down the country and lost a by-election in the once safe seat of Hartlepool.

The makeup of Wakefield Council is now as follows:-

Labour - 43

Conservatives - 17

Liberal Democrats - 2

Independents - 1

Labour also remains the largest party on Doncaster Council despite losing a number of seats in the local elections.

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Ros Jones’s party lost four seats from 2017 - three to the Conservatives and one to Edlington & Warmsworth First. But Labour gained one seat in Rossington & Bawtry from Independent John Cooke.

The Conservatives gained a seat in Bessacarr, Norton & Askern and Stainforth & Barnby Dun. They also went tantalisingly close in Hatfield but lost to Labour by 28 votes.

Localist group, Mexborough First, again returned three councillors to represent the town with a big majority despite a strong effort on the campaign trail from Labour.

Former Labour member Rob Reid also took a seat from his former party in the Edlington & Warmsworth ward under the Edlington & Warmsworth First banner.

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Despite losing seats, Labour didn’t experience big losses in Doncaster in so-called ‘Red Wall’ areas unlike places in the Midlands and North East.

Labour now have 40 seats, the Conservatives 11, Mexborough First three and Edlington & Warmsworth First one.

The ruling party saw quite a high turnover of candidates and 18 of Labour 40 candidates were elected for the first time.

Speaking after being elected for a third term as Doncaster’s elected mayor, Ros Jones said: “I’m delighted that the people of our borough have shown confidence in me, delivering for our town.

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“We’ve got a 10 year strategy to really kick the borough, it’s not one, three, four years because we have a long-term vision to drive this borough forward.

“It’s also about our towns and villages and that’s why we’ve brought forward our new master plans to be there to deliver for the people.

“We want to deliver a new hospital which we started in excess of three years ago.”

When asked about Labour’s result in Doncaster compared to poor outcomes elsewhere in the country, Mayor Jones added: “In Doncaster, we show that we deliver for our people and work with them and I’m delighted they have shown confidence in us.”

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Labour will see a raft of new councillors heading to Civic Office after a number of previous members decided not to stand again or who were not chosen this time around.

On the new crop of councillors, Jones said: “We’ve got a fantastic bunch of councillors that have been elected, some returning and some new faces who are young and will inject huge enthusiasm into local politics to work for the better of our borough.

“We’ve got a great blend of maturity and youth coming together to deliver for everyone.”