Labour losses and Conservative and Lib Dem gains: How it happened in Sunderland City Council election
Labour’s election woes in Sunderland started before polls even opened, with reports the party feared losing control of the city council.
In the end it clung on thanks to strong showings in Washington and the Coalfield.
But an attack in the city itself by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats saw the number of red seats in the council chamber shrink from 48 down to 42 – just above the 38 needed to retain majority control.
Shortly after all ballots had been returned to Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis and Wellness Centre, sources from all three main parties were commenting on how tightly fought many wards looked to be.
Hendon, defended by former deputy leader of the council Michael Mordey, was the first confirmed result, with the victory of Lib Dem newcomer Ciaran Morrissey setting a tone for the rest of the night.
A dominant showing in Sandhill also saw the seat snatched by the Lib Dems and while Labour held on to Southwick and Hetton, the thin victory of incumbent Pat Smith in Silksworth, by just 47 votes, told its own story.
The Tories then entered the fray with the second big scalp of the night, defeating cabinet member Rebecca Atkinson in Barnes to complete a clean sweep of the ward.
This was followed up with a successful Tory defence in Fulwell and the conversion of Ryhope and St Peter’s, while the Lib Dems took Doxford.
Labour nerves may have been settled by a double double success in Copt Hill and Shiney Row, which each had two seats up for grabs.
Green sources had already privately conceded early in the night they were unlikely to hold the Washington South seat vacated by their former councillor Dom Armstrong.
But it was still a surprise to many that this had opened the door to the Conservatives, who took one of the two seats on offer, while incumbent Louise Farthing successfully defended the other.
Continued strong showings in Washington and the Coalfield put paid to previous Conserative ambition of a coalition to oust the ruling party, but the failure of Labour to successful flip any seats itself, combined with the collapse of the UKIP vote, is likely to give all city leaders food for thought over the 12 months until the next round of elections.
Ward declarations in order:
Hendon – Lib Dem GAIN
Southwick – Lab HOLD
Hetton – Lab HOLD
Sandhill – Lib Dem GAIN
Silksworth – Lab HOLD
Barnes – Con GAIN
Ryhope – Con GAIN
Fulwell – Con HOLD
St Peter’s – Con GAIN
Houghton – Lab HOLD
Doxford – Lib Dem GAIN
Copt Hill – Lab HOLD x2
Shiney Row – Lab HOLD x2
Washington South – Lab HOLD and Con GAIN
Millfield – Lib Dem HOLD
St Chad’s – Con GAIN
St Michael’s – Con HOLD
Washington North – Lab HOLD
Pallion – Lib Dem GAIN
Redhill – Lab HOLD
Washington Central – Lab HOLD
Castle – Lab HOLD
Washington West – Lab HOLD
St Anne’s – Con GAIN
Washington East – Lab HOLD
Final seat tally (all councillors):
Labour – 42
Conservative – 18
Lib Dem – 12
UKIP – 3