Conservatives tighten grip on Walsall Council as Labour suffers more pain

The Conservatives have tightened their grip on Walsall Council, gaining several seats on a stunning day for Boris Johnson and his party.

Ed Lee, Rose Martin and Gary Perry celebrate
Ed Lee, Rose Martin and Gary Perry celebrate

The Tories gained five seats and lost none to increase their majority in Walsall. Labour lost four seats and failed to gain any on a devastating day for the party. The Tories now have 37 seats at the council house, with Labour trailing behind on 22.

The Liberal Democrats were wiped out as they lost their two seats. That included Ian Shires who lost his seat after 42 years on the council. Pete Smith was also elected as an Independent, seeing off both the Conservatives and Labour in Blakenall.

The balance of power had previously been on a knife edge but the Conservatives now command a large majority of 14 at the council house.

The results in Walsall continued a fantastic day for the Government party, after trouncing Labour in the Hartlepool by-election and taking several councils, including Dudley.

Inside the Walsall election count
Nick Gandham celebrates

The blue surge saw the Conservatives gain seats in Bloxwich East, Brownhills, Short Heath, Birchills-Leamore and Willenhall North, where Councillor Shires was displaced after more than four decades.

The Lib Dems lost their other seat to the Tories in Short Heath. Tina Jukes lost her Labour seat in Birchills-Leamore after 10 years.

Jubilant council leader Mike Bird said: "I'm elated. I'm pleased the effort put in has paid off. It's an amazing result, we have taken seats we would never have thought of. I have to applaud all the efforts put in.

"It's the first time since I've been a councillor that we have held all three seats in Brownhills and all six in Bloxwich.

Labour's Sean Coughlan celebrates with wife Diane
Joshua Whitehouse and Brad Allen celebrate their wins

"People voted for the Conservatives because they were proud of what the national Government has achieved and what the local council has done. We have given out £101 million in grants to Walsall businesses (during the pandemic)."

Councillor Bird said it was clear Labour could no longer take votes for granted in its traditional Black Country heartlands, and believes the the popularity of Boris Johnson and the success of the vaccine were important factors.

He said: "We are asking people to vote for us as opposed to the Labour Party expecting it and taking it for granted.

"I think it's clear from what we have seen nationally they are not a cohesive fighting force. The roll-out of the vaccine has seen a surge in Conservative popularity.

"People don't care about what is going on in Boris' flat. They are about how their lives and jobs are looked after."

Brad Allen celebrates his win

There were kind words for outgoing Lib Dem Ian Shires following four decades of service. Councillor Bird said: "We all wished him goodbye after 42 years. We gave him a round of applause for putting over half his life into this authority."

Despondent Labour Group leader Aftab Nawaz said: "It's a sad day. We have lost some really good, hardworking councillors, some councillors who have lots of future prospects but I'm sure they will be back.

"We did well to keep Rushall/Shelfield and Willenhall South, where the Conservatives put in a lot of effort but we were disappointed to lose Blakenall and Birchills-Leamore.

Council leader Mike Bird and Wendy Morton MP chat on a great day for the Tories

"We have got to dust ourselves off. It's still quite raw at the moment. We are still going to be a strong opposition."

Councillor Nawaz added: "The difficulty with local elections is we're at the mercy of what is happening at a national level. That's why it's sad to lose councillors like Matt Ward and Tina Jukes who have done so much hard work for their communities."

On Sir Keir Starmer, he said: "I'm not going to criticise the leader of our party. More people in our party need to understand they shouldn't be criticising our leader publicly."

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News