Tories take control of Cannock Chase District Council after nine gains
The Conservatives have taken control of Cannock Chase District Council after making nine gains at the local elections.
Labour had run a minority administration ahead of the poll but lost eight seats to the Tories as a third of the council's seats were voted on. The Conservatives held three others and were only denied a clean sweep by Chase Community Independents leader Paul Woodhead, who took Hednesford South.
It marks the first time the Tories have had overall control in the district.
Labour group leader George Adamson, who has now been toppled as council leader, said the results were a reflection of a failure in national leadership.
Meanwhile jubilant Tory leader Olivia Lyons said the Tories focus on local issues had led to success at the ballot box.
The result leaves the Conservatives with 23 seats in the council's chamber to Labour's nine.
The result continues the trend of huge Tory gains across the region, which saw the party dominate the Staffordshire County Council election and pick up 31 seats across the four Black Country councils.
Among the Tory gains in Cannock Chase were Brereton and Ravenhill, where Louis Arduino beat Labour council chairman Alan Dudson.
The Tories now hold all four Cannock seats after county councillor Johnny McMahon won Cannock East ahead of Christine Mitchell, Phil Jones beat Jacquie Prestwood in Cannock North, and Peter Kruskonjic took Cannock South.
Other gains came in Hagley, Heath Hayes East and Wimblebury, Hednesford North, Norton Canes and Western Springs.
Councillor Adamson, whose Hednesford Green Heath Ward was not up for election, told the Express & Star: "It's very disappointing and I think we've been punished locally by the recent policies and leadership of the national party.
"Both leaders we've had [Sir Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn], there's no confidence in them at the moment and obviously the Tories have benefitted from the vaccine bounce.
"The NHS and the volunteers have done an amazing job in delivering the vaccines and the Conservatives have reaped the benefit.
"I appreciate there's problems with the pandemic, but Keir Starmer says he's bringing a new style of leadership, well he needs to start showing it.
"He needs to have a higher profile and his shadow cabinet need to have a higher profile. They certainly need to show more leadership nationally than they have done.
"We're all affected by it. Cannock Chase Council has done a great job in dealing with the pandemic, but we've been punished for national issues."
Councillor Adamson said Labour would now begin the process of rebuilding in Cannock Chase. "We'll support the Conservatives when they do something right and oppose them when they are wrong," he said.
"We are particularly looking forward to them introducing the free parking they have promised."
Councillor Lyons said: "We have got some fantastic candidates who all live locally, and for the past few years now we've really focused on listening to residents.
"Their priorities are our priorities and we have really focused on local issues.
"We've now got a majority and we're looking forward to getting to work straight away. We've had a real focus on parks and open spaces so people can get back outside safely after the pandemic, and we are also supporting local businesses coming out of lockdown, to being our high streets back to life.
"We don't just want them to survive the pandemic, we want them to thrive."
Chase Community Independents remain the third biggest party on the authority with five councillors.
Leader Paul Woodhead, who held on to the Hednesford South seat he won for the Greens in 2016, said his party would be "the only credible alternative moving forward".
"The positive vote for me is based around my community engagement. It's about being involved everyday in what's going on around Hednesford," he said.
"That's why my vote has stood up. It's a lot of hard work and a lot of hours and I'm grateful for the support I've received.
"The collapse of Labour locally reflects national politics, but they have had a weak leadership here for a number of years and that has been reflected by people switching to blue."