We care about local issues not Brexit, says victorious Walsall Council leader
The leader of Walsall Council has pledged to focus on what matters to people in the town after the Conservatives' local election victory.
Gains for the party mean it is the first time since 2011 that a single group has had overall control in Walsall. The Tories had been running a minority council but will now be in total charge.
Jubilant leader Mike Bird said he believed his group's focus on local issues, rather than Brexit, had secured the trust of voters and that he would continue to build on work done since he became leader.
However, only around a quarter of the electorate came out to vote in Walsall.
The Conservatives gained two seats from Labour on a night where the predicted collapse of the Tory vote failed to materialise in Walsall. It was Labour who were instead left licking their wounds.
The surprise result came in Birchills-Leamore where a narrow victory for Gaz Ali gave the Conservatives the seat for the first time in the best part of four decades
Councillor Bird said: "It was a fantastic result and it is down to the people who are on the ground.
"To win Birchills is fantastic. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for us, we will be building on this success over the next year."
More local election coverage
- Follow results and reaction LIVE from counts across the region here
- Black Country round-up: Tories make gains as vote collapse fails to materialise
- National round-up: Major parties suffer as voters vent Brexit frustration
- UK local elections: At a glance
- Walsall local election results: Tories take control after gains
- Dudley election results: All square with Tories set to take over
- Sandwell election results: Labour maintains grip on council
- Wolverhampton results: Labour in control but Tories gain one seat
Asked what they key to victory was, the leader said: "I think it was our attitude towards Brexit. In Walsall we have made ourselves clear that we are not going to have anything to do with the European elections at all.
"We have carried on getting our message across and getting leaflets out distancing ourselves from national issues.
"We are going to carry on with our pledge to keep tips open seven days a week, which has proved popular, and crackdown on fly-tippers and prosecute people."
WATCH Pete Madeley's election round-up:
Councillor Bird said the low turnout for the local elections was "disheartening".
He said: "We probably put out half a million different pieces of information so to get a turnout of 20-odd per cent is disheartening. But at the end of the day it is their choice."