Labour remain in firm control of Wolverhampton Council but Tories make gains

Labour remain in firm control of Wolverhampton Council despite an 'incredible' surge in support for the Conservatives in the city.

Adam Collinge wins Oxley for the Conservatives - one of five seats the Tories won across the city
Adam Collinge wins Oxley for the Conservatives - one of five seats the Tories won across the city

Five seats turned blue across the city including in the Oxley ward where deputy council leader Councillor Louise Miles lost her seat.

The Tories suffered one loss – in Bilston East to Labour – with the seat originally won by a Labour councillor who later defected to them.

They seized seats from Labour in Oxley, Merry Hill, Penn, Bushbury North and Wednesfield South – and held onto three more in the city.

It brings the total number of Tory councillors to 15, with Labour still in firm control with 44 councillors and a further one Independent.

The count starts at GTG West Midlands in Willenhall for Wolverhampton Council's local elections with Covid-19 measures in place.

Councillor Wendy Thompson, leader of the Conservatives in the city, hailed the "incredible" support and said the "fight back" was now on.

But Labour council leader Ian Brookfield said it wasn't the "huge gains" people had predicted after the surge of blue elsewhere in the country.

Councillor Thompson said: "We're very pleased with the result, however we've got a lot of hard work to do – we're concerned about the huge unemployment rate and we know there's a lot to be done.

"We're planning with Andy Street to get lots of regeneration done and really give the chance to Wolverhampton people to become prosperous and to have a better quality of life.

Stephanie Haynes won Penn for the Conservatives from Labour

"Obviously we're very grateful for all of the people who have put trust in us so we can try and move Wolverhampton in the right direction, although we still have a Labour Party that's too busy with their own internal struggles to give the right kind of leadership which Wolverhampton should have.

"I think there's a real desire to see some change in some parts of Wolverhampton and Oxley was one of those. It's a wonderful result there, and I think across the Black Country, it shows people are looking to Boris in particular and the direction he wants to take Britain in and they are giving their trust to the Conservatives to give them the prosperity that only the South East has seen."

Councillor Brookfield said on social media after the election: "Not quite the huge gains as advertised, and if that’s a fight back, at that rate I’ll be dead and buried before they come even close."

Council leader Ian Brookfield celebrates after winning Bushbury South and Low Hill

The Labour leader won the Bushbury South and Low Hill seat for Labour by a comfortable margin with 1,421 votes to Tory candidate Matt Powis' 882 despite some controversy in the latter stages of the campaign.

Mr Powis had accused Mr Brookfield of "intimidation" after a conversation between the two was captured on the doorstep. Councillor Brookfield called on the Tory candidate to upload the full video and denied the claims.

Speaking after his win in the early stages of the election results coming out, the Labour leader said it was going to be a "difficult day" but he was "more than happy" to predict the party would win the "most seats quite handsomely" – which happened.

He said: "It's always an ecstatic feeling when you win your own ward, especially so because I've lived in Low Hill for 35 years. Unfortunately Peter Bilson passed away and I was overwhelmed when they asked me to represent my home area. There's no place like home.

"I've won by a clear margin and it's unfortunate the opposition took that approach [the doorstep video] in what was otherwise a decent campaign."

In Bilston East, Labour's Gillian Wildman won the seat comfortably with 1,424 votes to Conservative candidate Christopher Thompson's 838.

The seat was previously won by Payal Bedi-Chadha for Labour before she defected to the Tories in 2019, calling her old party "backward".

Gillian Wildman who won in Bilston East for Labour. The seat was won for Labour at the last election, but the councillor defected to the Tories in 2019.
Andrew McNeil celebrates after winning the Bushbury North seat for the Tories

Andrew McNeil triumphed for the Conservatives in Bushbury North, a Labour seat, with 1,670 votes to Labour candidate Janet Smith's 982.

He said: "I'm delighted – and I do think it's hopefully the beginning of the end of the Labour monopoly which is sucking the spirit of democracy out of Wolverhampton."

Wendy Dalton celebrates after winning Merry Hill seat from Labour

Wendy Dalton won the Merry Hill seat from Labour with 2,001 votes to Labour candidate, and chair of the licensing committee, Alan Bolshaw's 1,324.

She said: "It's wonderful – I feel quite humbled and grateful to be honest, to be elected by the people of Merry Hill. I'm quite proud and I'm undoubtedly ready to get to work – I live in the ward so it's really important to me."

Meanwhile Alan Bolshaw reflected on the election defeat. He said: "I'm feeling very philosophical about the result. I think we ran a very clean and strong campaign and I think many factors have come into the election – the vaccine roll-out and the national picture. I wish the new councillor for Merry Hill well."

Stephanie Haynes won Penn for the Conservatives from Labour

Stephanie Haynes won the Penn seat for the Conservatives from Labour with 2,465 votes to Labour candidate Tom Moreton's 1,775.

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted and I'm very humbled by the way the community have voted. I want to thank the residents of Penn for putting their faith in me and I will do my utmost to represent them. I can't wait to get started – it's wonderful."

Adam Collinge received the loudest cheer of the election after he narrowly won the Oxley ward from Labour's Louise Miles, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for resources.

In what was the biggest upset of the day, Conservative Adam Collinge claimed the Oxley ward for the Conservatives – narrowly beating Wolverhampton Council deputy leader and cabinet member for resources Louise Miles, with 1,249 votes to 1,179. Councillor Miles left the count before the results were announced.

Councillor Collinge said: "I think this is a huge marker for the party in Wolverhampton – it's moving us forward. The thing I hope people will take away is that I've run a really positive campaign about what I and other people wanted – that's what I'm in this for and I look forward to working with the other councillors, Labour councillors, in Oxley to continue the work in the area the best I can.

"I was nervous – it was one of those moments [when the results were declared] and it was down to a bundle or two of votes. You never know and I think I went through every stage of emotion there.

"I would like to mention Louise [Miles] and say it's hard, I know that, I think we both had a decent level of support and we both spoke to a great number of people and I hope what I can do is represent all of them and do my best for them as Louise has done over the years.

"She was gracious in offering her congratulations and I offer my sympathies to her. I'm chuffed for myself and the party and hopefully I can crack on with some work."

Andy Randle won Wednesfield South for the Conservatives from Labour

Meanwhile Andy Randle won Wednesfield South for the Conservatives with 1,457 votes, narrowly beating Jacqui Coogan for Labour who received 1,199 votes.

In the Park ward, outgoing mayor Claire Darke was re-elected with 1,640 votes. She said: "I'm very pleased – absolutely thrilled. It's been very very difficult, we've been down to leafleting and campaigning through social media. I want to thank the whole local team of the Labour Party who worked extremely hard, all the residents who voted for me and everyone else."

Current mayor Claire Darke smiles after winning her seat in the Park ward
Phil Bateman who won his seat in Wednesfield North

Phil Bateman, who was re-elected to the Wednesfield North ward for Labour, said he was first elected in May 1981 to the now-abolished West Midlands Metropolitan County Council – and he has lost "none" of his ambition for the role.

He said: "I want to make sure Wednesfield continues to become a better place for everyone. It's a massive massive job so I'm pleased to have been elected and I thank Wednesfield North for doing that and for having the faith in me."

Councillor Bateman said there were tough issues around unemployment alongside potential greenbelt development in his ward which he vowed to take action over.

Councillor Chris Burden is now the youngest councillor in the city, aged 25.

Chris Burden, who won Fallings Park for Labour by a narrow margin – with 1,186 votes to Tory candidate Ranjit Dhillon's 1,117 votes – is now the council's youngest councillor at 25.

He said: "It's not really sunk in yet, I haven't slept in 36 hours – it's overwhelming. I'm the youngest councillor now and I'm in Ian Brookfield's old seat. Big shoes to fill but I reckon I can have a good go. I'm excited to get started on stuff – to get things moving."

(left) Jaspreet Kaur Jaspal and Jasbir Kaur Jaspal won seats in Heath Town -- meaning the ward is now represented by three members of the same family.

Meanwhile, in Heath Town, it became a family affair after Labour's Jasbir Jaspal and her daughter-in-law Jaspreet Jaspal were both elected for the party. They join Heath Town councillor Milkinder Jaspal – with the ward becoming the first in the city to be represented by three members of the same family.

They said: "It's amazing. It's been an unprecedented year, an election campaign like no other and I'm really pleased that more people than ever have voted [when compared to the last election] despite the restrictions.

"We're happy and we're very grateful to the residents for supporting us – we'd like to thank everyone for voting."

Asked what it was like to have three members of the same family representing Heath Town, they said it was "wonderful" and "very special".

Councillor Zee Russell who won her Ettingshall seat and her election agent Councillor Sandra Samuels

Councillor Sandra Samuels, whose seat wasn't up for election, had been the election agent for both Ettingshall and Blakenhall – both areas which saw thumping Labour wins.

Zee Russell was re-elected in Ettingshall with 2,359 votes, a long way in front of Safyaan Salim's 674 votes for the Conservatives. And Tersaim Singh won in Blakenhall with 2,292 votes – a long way ahead of Mohammed Sohaib for the Tories who received 542 votes.

John Reynolds comfortably won his seat for Labour in Graiseley with 1,792 votes, with Tory Kiran Basra coming in with 867 votes.

Ellis Turrell and Jonathan Crofts who were both elected in the Tettenhall Wightwick ward

Ellis Turrell, who won in Tettenhall Wightwick for the Conservatives, said: "It's absolutely amazing to win, it's been a great result for us in Wolverhampton and I think on the doorstep people are fed up of the council not listening to their concerns and they want people in who have got a positive vision for the city and the results did show we've got that incredible support."

Jonathon Crofts, who also won in the ward, said: "I'm feeling absolutely delighted. It's been very heartening to see the turnout and feedback – now we shall work hard to get Conservative control of the council."

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