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UKIP's surge as Tories suffer across West Midlands

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats today took a battering in the local council elections as voters turned to UKIP.

Across 62 councils nationally the Tories lost 95 seats and control of nine authorities overnight, while Labour gained 97 seats and UKIP took 83. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats lost 51 seats.

Overall in the Black Country and Staffordshire, UKIP won 15 seats in four areas, with the Tories ending the night 12 seats down.

In Wolverhampton, which finished counting at around 2pm on Friday, UKIP held on to its only councillor - Malcolm Gwinnett - and finished second in 17 out of 19 other contests.

Tory Barry Findlay watches the count, while Jacqui Sweetman celebrates Labour's good showing
Mary Bateman wins for Labour in Wednesfield North

Labour increased its control on the city council by three seats, taking them off the Tories in Wednesfield South, Wednesfield North and Bushbury North, the seat previously held by retiring Conservative group leader Councillor Neville Patten.

The count at Wolverhampton's Civic Hall this morning.

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Party leader Nigel Farage declared today: "The UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen house."

The Tories lost Walsall – the last of the four Black Country boroughs under their control – although Labour fell one seat short of a majority due to gains made by UKIP.

The Conservative coalition with the Liberal Democrats was reduced to 24 councillors but Conservative leader Mike Bird said the 'door was open' to a deal with UKIP, even though it would still fall short.

At a glance:

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  • UKIP has come second in various wards in Sandwell and Cannock Chase, with Tories pushed into third
  • UKIP won a seat in Sandwell while the Tories lost one of their three to Labour.
  • Walsall Council looks set to be taken over by a minority Labour administration after the party took half of the seats.
  • The Tories were hoping to regain ground lost in Dudley two years ago, when the party was ousted by Labour.
  • Cannock Chase's Labour leader George Adamson has held his seat despite UKIP's surge.
  • Wolverhampton's Labour party has increased its majority, while the Tories were reduced to 11.
  • In Wyre Forest the Conservatives are a minority administration.
FULL ELECTION RESULTS:
  • Dudley results
  • Sandwell results
  • Walsall results
  • Wolverhampton results
  • Cannock Chase results
  • Wyre Forest results

"The doors are always open to talk to anybody who we can form an alliance with to actually have common policies. It's the people of Walsall that matter."

In many parts of the West Midlands the Conservatives had to accept third place while Labour councillors in the Black Country faced a nail-biting night as the Eurosceptics came close to winning their seats too.

Labour gained two seats in Walsall – Rushall-Shelfield and St Matthews – giving it 30 councillors but it remains one short of the majority it needs to be certain of getting all its plans approved. Deputy leader of the Labour Group Councillor Sean Coughlan said: "It puts us in a position where we can form an administration."

Conservatives had to accept third place while Labour councillors in the Black Country faced a nail-biting night as the Eurosceptics came close to winning their seats too.

Liz Hazell celebrates with husband Darren at the Walsall elections.

Nigel Farage's party won three seats in Walsall, with husband and wife UKIP candidates Darren and Liz Hazell both taking seats in the Short Heath and Willenhall North wards, while UKIP made another gain in Brownhills, with Stephen Craddock.

Mrs Hazell said it had been a 10-year battle 'but we got there' as she pledged to work for the residents.

The overall makeup of Walsall Council is now 21 Conservatives, 30 Labour, three Liberal Democrats, three UKIP, two independents and one Democrat Labour.

Louise Harrison celebrates with Adrian Andrew in Walsall

Sandwell Labour leader Darren Cooper, meanwhile, declared the Conservatives to be 'toast' as the party lost two of their three remaining councillors while UKIP came second in some wards including Great Bridge and Oldbury.

The first black female councillor in the council's history, Labour's Jacqui Taylor, was also elected, winning the Greets Green and Lyng ward.

Overall in the Black Country and Staffordshire, UKIP won 15 seats in four areas, with the Tories ending the night 12 seats down.

In Sandwell's Wednesbury North ward, where the Tories had one of their three seats, Labour candidate Tony Meehan won with 1,512 votes, UKIP took 880 and the incumbent Conservatives were reduced to just 381.

Councillors celebrate holding all the Wednesbury seats. Pictured L-R: Peter Hughes, Pam Hughes, Elaine Costigan, Tony Meehan, Bob Lloyd and Olwen Jones at the Sandwell Council elections being counted at Tipton Sports Academy.

The Conservatives also lost a seat in Charlemont with Grove Vale to Labour.

But UKIP won a seat from Labour in Sandwell's Princes End ward.

It is the party's first ever seat on Sandwell Council after the group made some extraordinary advances in the borough's elections.

UKIP won the Princes End ward from Labour, and came second in each of the other 15 seats in which it posted candidates.

Ukip supporters at Sandwell Council's count, where the party has won Princes End

New UKIP Councillor Philip Garrett, 31, said: "Our foot is in the door now, so now we push on.

"This was our first stab ever in Sandwell, the effort has been monumental."

The night was otherwise a huge success for the ruling Labour group, which gained a gross total of three councillors, winning all but one of the available 24 wards, and now holding 70 of the 72 seats on Sandwell Council.

Conversely yesterday's elections were a disaster for the local Conservatives, who failed to field a candidate in West Bromwich Central.

Emma Wimlett of UKIP looks on at the Local Election Count at Stourbridge Town Hall

In Dudley, UKIP gained seven seats – the most seats on the night. Labour ended up as winners as they saw their lead on the authority stretch to 20 councillors. Labour now has a total of 40 seats compared with 20 held by the Conservatives, nine by UKIP, two by independent councillors and one by the Green Party.

Labour lost two councillors, including cabinet member for culture Tracy Wood, who missed out in Upper Gornal to UKIP's Dean Perks.

It had also been a tough night for council leader David Sparks, who held on by 104 votes against UKIP in his Quarry Bank seat, despite it having previously been solidly Labour.

Counting at Dudley Town Hall last night

Bill Etheridge, UKIP's new councillor in Sedgley, is also a candidate in the European elections. He beat Conservative Tina Westwood to the Sedgley seat.

"The momentum is with us," he said.

His wife Star won the Coseley East seat, beating Labour's Sue Ridney.

Other UKIP candidates to win seats were Roger Scott-Dow in Gornal, Paul Brothwood in Wordsley, Paul Bradley in Amblecote and Stuart Henley in Halesowen North.

In Cannock Chase, Labour has remained in control, with a majority of 25 seats. The opposition party has, however, now switched from Tory to UKIP with the eurosceptic party coming away from the count with a total of six seats due to a surprise switch this morning by Tory Councillor Jodie Jones to independent.

The Conservatives, which were formally the opposition party, now have just five seats.

Today's results have left the Cannock Lib Dems with three seats, while the independents, including Councillor Jones, have merely two.

Labour's George Adamson (centre) watching the count.

Cannock Chase UKIP party leader Alan Dean said: "This is a special moment for us. We got together a few of us in September to form the branch.

"We had 34 members but have grown to more than 100, and now find ourselves level pegging with the Conservatives.

"I'm very proud of our team.

"The people of Cannock Chase have spoken and we will look to build from here."

The Local Elections count and results, Cannock Leisure Centre, Stafford Road, Cannock.

Cannock Chase's Labour leader George Adamson held onto his seat in Hednesford with a majority of 189 over UKIP.

It is in stark contrast to 2010 when he beat the Tories by just four votes.

Labour won the popular vote with 7,015. UKIP ran a close second polling 6,661 while the Tories were a distant third with 4,777.

With the General Election one year away Cannock Chase has been blown wide open.

The count at The Wyre Forest Glades Leisure Centre today

David Cameron said he was proud of the Tory election campaign, 'whatever the results', in an email to supporters.

With the Lib Dems suffering a further erosion in their local government powerbase and a potential wipeout of their MEPs, business secretary Vince Cable said: "I think both Labour and the Conservatives will find it difficult. But we're in Government, we take a kicking for the things the Government does that are unpopular."

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