Labour and Conservatives claim success at Sandwell Council election as both make gains
Labour won 22 out of 24 seats up for election on Sandwell Council, with leaders for both the ruling party and opposition claiming the night was a success.
However, turnout was low across the board, with some wards registering 19 per cent with the overall figure 22.92 per cent, compared to over 60 per cent for a general election.
After the night's results Labour hold 60 seats, an increase of three, with the Conservatives controlling 12 seats, an increase of two.
Labour leader of the council Kerrie Carmichael said: "To win 22 out of 24 seats is a great night for Labour and it shows we are delivering as a council across the board.
"I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard for this result."
She added: "I think turnout was low because Conservative voters just stayed at home, I have not heard people not voting because of the new voter ID rules I just think people have had enough of this Government."
Councillor Jackie Taylor, who held Greets Green and Lying for Labour, was angry about the new rules forcing voters to bring ID to the polls.
She said: "The Government needs to know our democracy does not need voter suppression."
Sandwell Conservative group leader Councillor David Fisher was pleased with the night's results.
He said: "It was all doom and gloom coming into this election but we are pleased with the night. Voters have returned two new Conservative councillor.
"Two wards, Princes End and Charlemont and Grove Vale, now have three Conservative councillors and it shows voters have been pleased what we have been doing."
Natalie Weston was delighted to win Charlemont and Grove Vale for the Conservatives.
She said: "I have been working in the community for years, I am really interested in environmental issues and will continue the good work local Conservative councillors have been doing in my ward. We all live locally so can see what needs to be done."
Warley MP John Spellar was at the count but his sights are firmly on a general election next year.
He said: "People have had it hard recently with the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis, I think politics is the last thing on their mind.
"But 22 out of 24 seats for Labour in Sandwell shows people can see the council is doing its job and improving from a difficult few years."
The Government installed commissioners in Sandwell Council after years of infighting in the controlling Labour group and several leaders and chief executives within a few years.
Leader Councillor Kerrie Carmichael added: "People can see how hard we have worked to turn it around, we have a clear vision, things like being a Dementia Friendly authority help."
It was an emotional night for John Tipper who won Cradley Heath and Old Hill, a seat he held previously when he exposed corruption within his own group.
Councillor Tipper ran to keep a promise to former councillor Ann Shackleton who died last year after a long battle with cancer.
He said: "This victory was for Ann. She asked me to stand to replace her so that's what I did. She might be gone but she lives on through all the people she touched and inspired as a teacher and a councillor.
"This one is for you Ann."
Labour won Old Warley despite a long running dispute about the development of Brandhall Golf Club.
Several candidates were elected as Councillors for the first time after Labour deselected several incumbents due to a long-running power struggle within the group.
Terry Fitzgerald won Friar Park for Labour, he said: "This is all new for me, but I am from Friar Park, I grew up in the ward and am looking forward to helping people as much as I can."
Justyna Kordala won Princes End for the Conservatives, she said: "I am delighted to win, I will take representing Princes End seriously, the Conservatives have won all three councillors in this ward and voters are not happy with the Labour administration which has let them down."
This year the winning candidate could give a short speech on the podium, several elected Labour Councillors sent messages to the Government.
Newly elected Bristnall Councillor Tom Johnston said: "This Government needs to stop picking on minorities who cannot defend themselves. I have one message tonight and that is "Trans Rights!".