'Best night ever' for Dudley Conservatives as council victory makes Labour 'irrelevant'

The Conservatives have remained in control of Dudley Council after gaining an extra 12 seats in the 2021 election.

Councillor Adam Davies wins the Brierley Hill seat
Councillor Adam Davies wins the Brierley Hill seat

It was a night of resounding success for Patrick Harley and the Tories in Dudley, as they ended up with 46 seats on the council, compared to Labour's 24.

There also remains two independent councillors – which make up the 72 seats within the authority.

But Thursday night into Friday morning was all about the Conservatives in Dudley – as they gained 12 new seats and held onto 11 seats.

Councillor Harley, the Conservative leader in Dudley, said: "It has been an excellent result for us – the best night ever for the Conservative group here. We ended the night with 46 seats – and if you include Colin Elcock and Ray Burston [independent councillors] who always support us in the chamber, we have got 48 bolts in the chamber now which leaves the Labour party irrelevant.

"I think what we have done right is one select the right candidates for each particular area, I think we have also really publicised in the campaign what we have done as an administration in the last four years. The big region projects we have got, the ambitions that we have got, pumping money into frontline services like children and adult social care when other councils around us are cutting it we have put more money in.

Conservatives Robert Clinton won the Quarry Bank & Dudley Wood seat – one of the many gains the party made overnight

"I also think the national picture, with a really popular Prime Minister like Boris who people just really like. The reason they like him is because he delivers, he delivered Brexit, he's delivering the vaccine programme. I don't think we have seen the best of him yet – I think the best is yet to come when we see what he will roll out with the economy when he's no longer got Covid to deal with.

"We narrowly lost the Brierley Hill ward in 2019 by 25 votes. Since then Adam [Davies] has been an absolute solider in the community – and he's got the result he needs. To lose by 25 two years, and now to record a majority of nearly 700 is amazing and that is down to his campaigning. It's thoroughly deserved.

"We have got a job to do and we need to deliver and make sure the trust placed in us and the mandate they have given us, we need to deliver on that."

Stuart Henley won the Halesowen North ward for the party – with a majority of 208. He won the seat from the authority's deputy mayor, Labour's Hilary Bills, who was first elected in 2012.

Speaking to the Express & Star after the result, Councillor Henley said: "I am over the moon. It was a hard seat to try and win – deputy mayor Hilary Bills has done a lot of work.

Conservative leader Patrick Harley with most of the newly elected councillors

"So I just went in if I win it, I win it, if I don't, I don't. It really shocked me.

"I'm going to carry on doing what I have been doing all year round – help the community where I can, and look at other projects that I can get involved with."

Other seats gained from Labour included Amblecote; Kingswinford North & Wall Heath; Norton; St James'; Netherton, Woodside & St Andrews; Cradley & Wollescote; Brierley Hill; Lye & Stourbridge North; Upper Gornal & Woodsetton; Brockmoor & Pensnett; and Quarry Bank & Dudley Wood.

Conservative candidate Shaz Saleem took one of two seats up for grabs in the Kingswinford North & Wall Heath ward. The other seat was won by fellow Tory Phil Atkins.

Councillor Saleem said: "I can't believe, it's been a long day – but it's been worth it. I am honoured and still in a bit of shock. There was a time when I thought it wasn't going to happen and everyone around me was saying don't worry it's going to happen.

"It's been an amazing night for the Conservatives in Dudley. If there was ever a night to look back on, tonight would be that night. It was a historical night and people will be talking about it for a long time."

Labour's Sue Ridney retained the Coseley East seat

Labour held onto three of its seats it was contesting – Coseley; Castle & Priory; and St Thomas's.

Labour's Councillor Keiran Casey, who was first elected to the Upper Gornal and Woodsetton ward in 2012, lost his seat to Conservative candidate Mark Westwood by just 84 votes.

Speaking after the result, Mr Casey said: "I'm disappointed, it was quite a close result. But considering the other results that have been coming through tonight, I think the close margining at least gives me some comfort that people acknowledge the work I have done over the years.

"It could have been a lot worse – when we're losing other wards by 600 votes. It's not consolation really because I still lost, but it is something that people hopefully thought I did a good job. But it's just been a bad night all round for Labour really.

"Adam [Aston] is still on the council so I will continue to work with him and local community groups and people I have built up good relationships with. At the end of the day I still love the community whether I am a councillor or not, so I will try to do everything I can to make it a better place.

Labour's Keiran Casey lost his seat

"This isn't just happening for Labour in Dudley, it's across the country. I think there's a couple of things really – how well the vaccine roll out is going, people wanting the Government to succeed because it is good for the country at the moment to get us out of this dreadful pandemic.

"But I also think there's a big job for Keir Starmer to continue to do to get the Labour party back on a footing with working class people in places like Dudley. I think he's got a massive job ahead of him, I think he needs to keep hanging on and bringing us back to where I think the Labour party should be."

While Dudley Labour leader, Councillor Qadar Zada added: "We are disappointed – the result tonight was definitely disappointing.

"I think this isn't the time for finger-pointing, what we need to do understand how we can build the trust with the local community, how we can build back the Labour party so that the people see it as a party they can support – and that will be my priority going forward.

Dudley Labour leader Qadar Zada

"Obviously we are disappointed we should have won more seats but we are delighted we have been able to retain some of these seats. As soon as we have had a slight rest, recovered and recuperated we will be back on the doorstep talking to residents and listening to what matters to them.

"I want to thank the hardworking councillors who have obviously lost their seats through no fault of their own, we know this is the national picture, not the local picture. It is no reflection of their work in Dudley.

"I think the Labour party will now need to think of a way how it can listen to people, be with them through their period of recovery from the outset of the pandemic and hopefully in the future we can prove to our residents that we can be supported.

"We haven't given up – we have started and this is a journey that we continue and we are committed to making."

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