Sunderland's council leader says his position is ‘secure’ despite Labour losing six seats
The leader of Sunderland City Council has insisted his position is ‘secure’, despite overseeing a second night of electoral disappointment in three years.
Labour saw six sitting councillors lose their seats following yesterday’s (Thursday, May 6) polls, cutting its seats from 48 down to 42.
It followed a similarly bad night for Wearside’s ruling party at the last round of local elections in 2019, but top boss Graeme Miller has suggested he intends to stick around to try and turn around his group’s fortunes.
“It was a sad realisation,” he said early this morning (Friday, May 7), reflecting on results in the city.
“Most leaders will scenario a best and a worst case – this wasn’t quite the worst case, but it was a bad case and I was prepared for it.
“There was nothing we could do about the UKIP vote and I feel the pain of every [lost Labour council seat], but I want the party to continue to deliver for the city.
“It wasn’t a ‘pit in the stomach’ moment, but it was disappointing.”
Asked whether he expected to continue as leader, Cllr Miller, who became leader of the council in 2018, claimed he was ‘secure’ in his position.
The Conservative Party emerged as the biggest winner of the night, increasing its tally from 12 to 18 councillors, ousting cabinet member Rebecca Atkinson, in Barnes, along the way.
The Liberal Democrats also did well, gaining four seats, including Hendon, where they defeated former deputy council leader Michael Mordey.
Both parties appear to have benefitted from the collapse of UKIP’s support in the city, which slumped from 25 per cent across all wards in 2019 to just four per cent this time around.
Speaking after all results had been declared, opposition Conservative leader Antony Mullen called for Cllr Miller to go.
He said: “It’s been a brilliant night for the Conservatives, much better than expected, and a terrible night for Labour – certainly the end of Graeme Miller’s leadership.
“If he doesn’t choose to go his group has to get rid of him and it would be in the best interest of the city if he was to depart.”