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Local elections: Tories make gains in the Black Country

By Peter Madeley | Local Elections 2019 | Published:

The predicted Tory vote collapse failed to materialise in the Black Country as the party made gains in three of the four boroughs.

Walsall Council's deputy leader Adrian Andrew celebrates his party's results at the local elections

Theresa May's party had been widely expected to flounder as a result of the Government's failure to deliver a Brexit deal, but it was Labour that felt the pain on a night of low turnouts and high drama.

WATCH: Local elections round-up

Local Elections 2019: Black Country round-up

The Conservatives ended up taking full control of Walsall Council, gaining two seats from Labour to form a majority administration.

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Meanwhile a nail-biting election in Dudley saw both Labour and the Tories finish the night with 36 seats, meaning the Conservatives will be able to use the Mayor's casting vote to form an administration at the next council meeting on May 16.

The Tories also gained a seat in Wolverhampton, where Paul Appleby took Bushbury North by just eight votes after a recount.

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Paul Appleby took Bushbury North by just eight votes

However, Labour still dominates the authority with 51 of 60 seats. The group will elect the successor to council leader Roger Lawrence at a meeting tonight.

In Sandwell all 24 seats went to Labour, meaning Steve Trow's party maintained its total dominance of the authority.

Commenting on his party's victory in Walsall, Councillor Mike Bird said: "It has been fantastic, all the candidates have worked exceptionally hard and I have to pay tribute to my deputy, without him we would be lost.

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"It is a great result for the effort that has been put in.

A happy Councillor Mike Bird

"We delivered half a million pieces of literature.

"Our plans are to build on what we have done this evening, we're looking forward to the next elections where we're not defending as many seats."

Labour councillor Lee Jeavons, said: "It is disappointing, we came here hoping to gain seats and we lost two.

"We need to sit down in the cold light of day and work out exactly what happened.

WATCH: Highlights from the night

Tories make gains in the Black Country

"We've had two lots of disappointing results, two years in a row.

"When you are out there knocking on the doorsteps, when you can get past Brexit, people do want to talk about local issues.

"We've got some great candidates, some enthusiastic candidates, we've reached a low point but everybody worked their socks off."

In Dudley Labour was denied power by just six votes, after Tory Steve Clark edged out Cat Eccles in the Wollaston and Stourbridge Town ward after a series of recounts.

Counting at the Dudley local elections

A relieved Conservative leader Patrick Harley, said: “It has been a really good night for us.

"We held on to seats, made gains, fallen just short on a couple of seats. It could have been a very different picture if not for Brexit.”

“We held our own, made gains and are now in a position to take back the council.”

Labour group leader Councillor Qadar Zada

In Wolverhampton, outgoing Labour leader Councillor Lawrence said he was confident he would leave a "very strong" Labour group in place.

Tory leader Wendy Thompson said she was not surprised by a turnout across the city of just 27 per cent, adding: "Brexit has obviously had an effect.

"It's a really good result for us, particularly Bushbury North. I'm very pleased.

"People want change. This is the start, we will be moving forward from here."

A caffeinated Jacqui Sweetman settled in for the night

Mr Appleby said: "It was a close battle. We just have to crack on now and get Wolverhampton back on its feet.

"I'm ecstatic, it's been hard work. There have been some issues when I have been walking around knocking on doors. There is talk about the development of Stafford Road and speeding and the bins fiasco."

Sandwell Council leader Steve Trow said: "I am really pleased, we have run an energetic campaign and the response has been to return a full slate of Labour councillors to maintain the momentum we have going forward."

Langley ward councillor Yvonne Davies said it was "extraordinary" that Labour has once again swept the board in Sandwell given the "climate both locally and nationally".

"We need to do good work from here, we start to build and it is good results tonight," she added.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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