Express & Star

'Grateful' Wolverhampton Labour take three seats from Conservatives to increase huge majority

The Labour dominance of Wolverhampton Council has been extended after the party took three more seats in the local elections.

Jacqui Coogan with father and son Greg and Ciaran Brackenridge

With all 60 of the council seats being contested, the ruling party won three seats from the Conservatives to end the election with a 47-13 majority in the council.

Aldersley Leisure Village was a hive of activity throughout Friday as the count for the full Wolverhampton Council election took place, with all 60 seats up for election.

There were new names on the ballot alongside established councillors, with several soon-to-be former councillors who had stepped down attending to cheer their colleagues on.

It was a tense scene, with plenty of Labour and Conservative members observing the verification process to ensure all eligible votes were ready to be counted, with councillors elected to serve either a four-year, three-year or one-year term as councillor.

Anticipation at the count

With just 48,206, or 26 per cent, of eligible voters in the city casting their votes, it was a quicker process, with some counts starting just over an hour after verification began and results announced very soon after.

Turnout was low in certain areas, with Bushbury South and Low Hill seeing just 1,549 out of 9,476 eligible voters casting votes, just 16.35 per cent turnout, while Tettenhall Wightwick recorded the highest, with 3,523 out of 9,011 eligible voters casting a vote, with a 39.10 turnout.

The first declaration was given for Bushbury South and Low Hill and saw Paula Brookfield elected for four years, council leader Ian Brookfield for three and Paul Sweet for one year, signalling a hold of seats for Labour.

There were marginal gains with Labour taking all three seats in Oxley, unseating one of the Conservative candidates, while in Ettingshall South and Spring Vale, Labour won back a seat lost when Councillor Mak Singh crossed the floor after the last election to stand as a Conservative councillor.

Labour also gained a seat in Wednesfield South, with Ciaran Brackenridge being elected alongside his father Greg as councillor.

Happy Labour members, from left: Jenny Cockayne, Beverley Momenabadi, Zee Russell and Jeszemma Howl

Particular areas of interest were around the nine seats for Bushbury North, Merry Hill and Penn.

The Conservatives held all three seats in Bushbury North, with Conservative deputy leader Simon Bennett holding on by 70 votes to remain for one year, while Andrew McNeil was elected for three years and Paul Appleby for four years.

Mr McNeil said it was a mixture of relief at all the hard work put in during the campaign, but also sorrow for his colleagues who didn't get elected, and spoke about his aims.

Conservatives celebrating holding onto Bushbury North, from left: Andrew McNeil, Simon Bennett and Paul Appleby

He said: "My main aim is to ramp up individual street surgeries, which is something I've been doing, but with a longer term, I can spend more time on doorsteps throughout the year.

"To me, this is also about raising issues with people in the city about the Labour council not having their best interests and following their views and holding them to account."

Penn stayed the same, with Stephanie Haynes reelected for three years and Parambir Singh elected for one for the Conservatives, while Labour Councillor Celia Hibbert was reelected for four years, a result she said she was very proud of.

For Penn, Celia Hibbert

She said: "I'm speechless and tired as we've been campaigning for a whole month, but I am so happy and excited that the work paid off.

"I want to continue doing everything I'm doing and getting people to support our fantastic local businesses, as well as do more interfaith work and work closer with churches and Gurdwaras in the area."

For the second year in a row, Merry Hill went to a full recount, with Conservatives Wendy Dalton and Chris Haynes and Labour's Carol Hyatt all retaining their seats.

The leadership for Labour were jubilant at a successful day for the party, with leader Ian Brookfield saying it was an understatement to call it dominance.

The count

He said: "We've increased our numbers and gone with the national swing, so we're grateful that people in the city voted for us and we'll get to work straight away and promise to deliver what we said we would deliver.

"We're helping people through the cost of living crisis and our green agenda will see a solar farm begin construction and more infrastructure being built in the city, so it's a fantastic day."

Deputy leader Stephen Simkins said: "It's important that the people of the city recognised our vision for the city is the right one and we've come close in a lot of the wards, so it's really important that we continue the momentum of getting the best for our city."

Conservative group leader Wendy Thompson spoke defiantly about the day's results, saying that the Conservatives had lost some excellent councillors, but would continue to hold the Labour council to account.

She said: "All today has done is actually embed worse council services because there is a lot of unhappiness with the present Labour council, but what is important to note is that their numbers have not gone up and the trend has been more Conservative.

"We have a wonderful team of enthusiastic people and it's all systems go to try and get something better for the people of Wolverhampton."