OUSTED Mayor Bob Heron last night fought back tears after a shock election result which saw him booted off Sunderland City Council.
Mr Heron’s 23-year tenure on the authority came to an end as independent Anthony Allen took his Copt Hill seat, with a margin of just 75 votes.
“I’m gutted,” Mr Heron told the Echo. “I’ve had a fantastic year as Mayor.
“We knew it was going to be close. For the last 10 to 12 years, it’s been very close.”
When asked whether he would be standing for election again, he said he would need some time out to reflect before making a decision.
“I’m going to have a rest,” he said, adding: “I’ll never be walking away from politics.”
There were shake-ups elsewhere in the city, with Conservative Shirley Leadbitter gaining Steve Bonallie’s Labour seat of St Peter’s by an 89-vote margin.
And outgoing Tory leader Robert Oliver’s former St Chad’s ward went to Labour newcomer Gillian Galbraith, who beat Conservative Keith O’Brien by 165 votes.
“It was quite nail-biting, very exciting,” Coun Galbraith said. “We did expect it to be close. I’m delighted. I can’t wait to get started.”
Despite the result in his former ward, Mr Oliver was pleased with the night in general.
He said: “It was quite a pleasing result. Once your party gets into central Government, it makes it hard to win at a local level, so it was better than expected.”
Among the rare breed of Tories was Michael Dixon, who replaced Paul Maddison as his party’s candidate for St Michael’s.
Coun Dixon took 1,501 votes, to beat Labour’s Zafer Iqbal with 635 votes.
Expenses scandal or not, Labour’s Neville Padgett walked his Washington East seat, winning by a comfortable 462 votes, as 34.3 per cent of the electorate had their say.
Of the 25 seats up for grabs, Labour took a total of 21, with the Conservatives winning three and one Independent. The overall turnout across Sunderland was 33 per cent. •Click here for a full list of ward-by-ward results