Ukip and the Greens claim historic seats in Sunderland as Labour loses 10 councillors in ‘terrible night’ for the party
UKIP and the Green Party claimed historic seats in Sunderland last night as Labour lost 10 councillors as it took a battering in a ‘free-for-all’ at the polls.
Before last night, the ruling group held 60 out of a total of 75 seats.
But by the end of the night the red rosette crowd was down by 10, following a slew of gains by their political opponents.
UKIP took three seats in the city just a year after it failed to field one single candidate in the 2018 council elections. After years in the doldrums following the Brexit referendum, the party has been back with a vengeance nationally following delays over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and Theresa May’s failure to get her deal through Parliament. The party won seats in the St Anne’s, Redhill and Ryhope wards.
The Greens gained their first-ever council seat in the North East, toppling Labour in Washington South – the former ward of disgraced councillor Paul Middleton, who was forced to quit the city council following his conviction for a child sex offence earlier this year.
And the Conservatives were also successful, gaining an extra four seats.
The Liberal Democrats managed a double win in Sandhill, which was electing two councillors following the resignation of Lynn Appleby earlier in March, less than a year after she was first elected. The party also won in Millfield and Doxford.
But Niall Hodson was left ruing what he saw as a golden opportunity to steal even more seats from Labour.
“It’s been an extremely bad night for the Labour Party, it’s been an absolute free -for-all,” he said.
“I’ve never seen results like this in Sunderland, previously it’s been Labour, Lib Dem and Conservatives, but it’s now represented by basically every UK political party.”
It was almost as good a night for every other main party as it was a bad one for Labour.
The night’s results still leaves Labour in overall control of the city, but council leader Graeme Miller conceded it had been a ‘terrible night for Sunderland Labour’.
He said: “My gut is national issues around Brexit caused a lot of Labour voters to not vote for us or for other parties. They’re not happy as a city which voted to leave that we haven’t allowed that to happen and they see us as wanting to stay.”
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service