Express & Star

Heavy Tory losses mark day of election drama

The Conservative vote collapsed across Staffordshire but largely held firm in the Black Country after a dramatic set of local elections.

The Wolverhampton local election count.

Rishi Sunak's party lost more than a thousand seats nationally – and there were major losses in parts of the region. The Tories lost overall control of councils in Lichfield and Cannock Chase and also suffered defeats in Stafford, where council leader Patrick Farrington lost his seat.

Labour and the Greens were the main benefactors, making significant gains across the county, while the Lib Dems struck gold in Lichfield.

There was joy for the Conservatives in Wyre Forest, where the party took control of the district council after winning 20 of the 33 seats up for grabs.

In the Black Country, Labour extended its control of Wolverhampton Council after taking three extra seats, while in Walsall it was a case of 'as you were' with both major parties staying put.

In Dudley the ruling Conservative administration ended the night with one additional seat, while Labour pegged on two. Meanwhile in Sandwell the Conservatives gained two seats, although Labour continued to dominate, finishing with 60 councillors after three gains.

The results mirror the picture from the May 2019 local elections, when the blue vote held strong in the Black Country despite a national collapse.

But it was a different story across Staffordshire.

Lichfield District Council is now under 'no overall control' after the Tories saw their majority disappear, losing seven seats. Labour finished with 17 councillors after six gains, while the Lib Dems came from nowhere to grab seven seats.

Cannock Chase, which had a ruling Conservative administration for the first time in 2021, is now under 'no overall control' after the Tories dropped three seats and Labour gained five. The Greens also became a political force in the district with five seats, and could now enter talks with Labour over forming a ruling coalition.

Stafford Borough Council is expected to elect a new leader at an AGM next week after the elections saw gains for Labour (three) and the Greens (four). Local group Stafford Borough Independents finished on seven seats and could play a major role in the next administration.

The Tories also made losses in South Staffordshire, although the party is still in firm control of the council with 29 seats. Wyre Forest District Council was the only Conservative gain across the wider West Midlands.

In the first elections where photo ID was required to vote, turnouts plunged below 20 per cent in some wards, with Labour councillors blaming the new measures as well as "voter disinterest".

Among the councils taken over by Labour was Stoke-on-Trent, a key regional target for Sir Keir Starmer's party. Labour also made seven gains in Tamworth, which fell into 'no overall control' after almost two decades of Tory rule.