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UKIP vote collapses, Tories take tight marginals and Labour strengthens control in core areas

By Peter Madeley | Politics | Published:

There was high drama at election counts across the Black Country as Walsall and Dudley were left under no overall control – although the Tories increased their seats on both councils.

It was mixed emotions for councillors across the Black Country as results were counted

Meanwhile, Labour strengthened its grip on Wolverhampton and Sandwell, while UKIP was wiped out on the night, and now has just one councillor remaining on a Black Country local authority.

In Cannock Chase Labour maintained a slim majority, ending the night with 21 out of 41 seats.

See the full results from each authority here:

Dead heat in Dudley

Dudley was expected to be a gripping battle and the classic blue-red marginal did not disappoint.

The Conservatives are likely to continue to run the council having gained six seats – five of them from UKIP.

The party has now tied Labour on 35 seats and will cling onto power providing it gets the support from the borough’s two non-Labour councillors.

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Council leader Patrick Harley, centre, celebrates a good night for the Tories in Dudley

Tory leader, Councillor Patrick Harley, said: “I am elated. We had six targets seats and six gains.

“It is a great night for us.

“We were really defiant, we could really not afford to lose any seats – we had to make those six gains to ensure Labour didn’t take control.

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Teenager Joe Roberts speaks after winning Halesowen North from UKIP's Stuart Henley

“I am confident we will get the UKIP and Independent councillors on board. We have a great relationship with those two councillors and they have supported us over the last 12 months. I have no doubt that they will support us again.

“With those six gains and the two councillors we will have 37 seats. We have got it. It has been a great night all round.”

The Conservatives gained one seat from Labour, with 18-year-old Jake Cooper winning Belle Vale from Labour’s Ian Cooper.

He said he plans to ‘stand up for younger people’ on the council, and is likely to be backed up by fellow teenage Tory Joe Roberts, who who Halesowen North from UKIP.

UKIP defeated

UKIP was decimated, with MEP Bill Etheridge losing his Sedgley seat by a landslide and group leader Paul Brothwood defeated in Wordsley.

A deflated Mr Brothwood blamed UKIP leader Gerard Batten for providing ‘no hope’ and added: “I am personally devastated.

"Voters have gone back to the typical parties, ignoring the work I have done in my term as a councillor.

“The future of UKIP in the Dudley borough is really unknown at this stage.”

UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge lost his Sedgley seat by 498 votes

Labour group leader, Councillor Pete Lowe, said he was pleased that he had increased his own majority in Lye and Stourbridge North, and said his party had ‘put a very positive message across’.

“The majority of the UKIP votes have gone to the Conservatives,” he added.

“The challenge is for us to reach out to those voting areas.”

Tory gains in Walsall

In Walsall the Tories are set to return to power with a minority administration.

They won five seats – giving the party 30 overall out of 60 council seats – leaving them just one short of an overall majority.

The Conservatives made gains from UKIP, who lost all three of their councillors in the borough.

Bal Chatta celebrates winning Short Heath from UKIP

Labour lost two of their seats taking them down to 26 councillors.

The party has been running the council as a minority administration under leader Sean Coughlan, but beaming Tory group leader Mike Bird said he was looking forward to returning to the box seat. “It’s good to be back,” he said.

"I am very pleased, I think it's been an exceptional night for the Conservative Party in Walsall and that's down to the hard work and effort that everyone has put in.

"The Brexit vote has had some effect here but the real effect is that people are disenchanted with two years of Labour. They've shown their inexperience, lack of knowledge and vision.

Walsall Labour leader Sean Coughlan lets the results sink in

"We've got 30 councillors, are the largest party now and should form an administration."

Labour councillor Ian Robertson, said: “We don’t have the numbers and mean it will be a Tory administration.

“We have tried and we will continue to try to do the best for the people of Walsall.

“This is their verdict and we have to accept it.”

Wolverhampton stays red

In Wolverhampton Labour maintained overall control with ease, gaining two seats on the night.

Asha Mattu, the widow of the late Mayor Councillor Elias Mattu, successfully won his seat in Graiseley.

Mr Mattu died in February at the age of 59 following an illness. He had been councillor for Graiseley for almost 18 years.

Asha Mattu celebrates with her children

Labour gained a seat in Penn through first time candidate Celia Hibbert, and also won Spring Vale, which had previously been held by UKIP.

Council leader Roger Lawrence, said: “It’s got to be a good night for us. We made two gains and held every seat we defended.

“The Conservatives are in a bit of a mess. They don’t have many members and Windrush has certainly not helped them, or the apparent disunity in the Conservative party nationally.

Labour Eleanor Smith was at the count at Aldersley Leisure Village

“I’m getting a lot of very talented new members with a lot of experience working in the community and I’m optimistic we will bond together to make a strong political group for the future.”

Opposition Tory leader Wendy Thompson said her party’s disappointing performance was ‘affected by selecting some candidates quite late’.

She said: “There’s a saying: You can’t fatten a pig on market day.

City MP Pat McFadden applauds Labour success

“Some of these very small margins would have turned to our advantage if we had selected earlier. Where there was good planning and good organisation, we did well, such as Merry Hill where we increased our majority.

“It shows the importance of councillors being representatives of their community.

“Next year we will work harder on winning over the UKIP vote.”

Labour dominate Sandwell

Twenty-six seats were up for election in Sandwell, and all of them were held by Labour, taking the party to 70 seats.

Councillor Mahboob Hussain, who is suspended by the Labour Party, at the Sandwell count

It means the only opposition in Sandwell now comes from two independent councillors.

Sandwell council leader Steve Eling hailed a ‘really good result for Labour and said: “It is a clear vindication of our agenda and the policies that we are offering to the people of Sandwell – policies that we are already delivering and that they can trust us to deliver.”

Labour keeps control in Cannock

Cannock Chase Council leader George Adamson said he was pleased with Labour’s performance in the district, which saw the party finish with a majority of one.

“We have kept our control and we are very grateful for the people who voted,” he said.

Labour leader George Adamson watches on at the Cannock Chase count

Opposition Tory leader Paul Snape, said: “We’re disappointed the council is still in Labour’s hands but we are pleased with the work put in by everybody.

“We have taken some more seats. We’re hoping people see we have younger councillors and can be a party for young people.”

In Birmingham Labour managed to secure a majority after a major election shake up in the city

Meanwhile in Wyre Forest, the Conservatives maintained their strong grip despite a three-seat swing to Labour in the 11 seats up for grabs.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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