MORE than 70 per cent of Wakefield voters stayed away from the polling stations but that didn’t stop Labour celebrating the capture of 12 seats, nine of them at the expensive of the Conservatives.
Labour won 20 out of the 21 seats available but the turnout, just under 29 per cent, was pitifully low.
Council leader Peter Box, who retained his own seat for Labour, said: “It has been a great day for Labour in Wakefield.”
The city’s Tory group leader, Mark Crowther, lost his Pontefract South seat to Labour’s Celia Loughran.
Mr Crowther blamed his own party’s national leadership for the losses in Wakefield, saying: “If I am honest, the Government has a lot to answer for. They need to sort their act out and get competence at a ministerial level. It is about time they got their communication strategy in order, stop messing about and stop making stupid mistakes.”
Members of Ukip were happy with the number of votes they pulled in across the Wakefield district – though they fell short of actually winning a seat on the council.
Ukip member Arnie Craven, who polled 556 votes (20 per cent) in Airedale and Ferry Fryston, said: “We have been talking to people about local issues and people have seen we are not just a national party.”
He said his party had taken votes from the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.
In Altofts and Whitwood the Ukip candidate took 24 per cent of the vote, coming second to Labour. And in Normanton Ukip took 25 per cent to come second to Labour. In some wards the Lib Dems polled less than 10 per cent and the party has no seats in the city.
The new make-up is 52 Labour and 11 Conservative. Labour remains in overall control.