Labour celebrates election glory after hammering opposition to leave '˜last man standing'
History has been made in South Tyneside's villages '“ as Labour enjoyed a clean sweep at the polls.
New kid on the block, Labour’s David Townsley, took the Cleadon and East Boldon seat by just 35 votes from the Conservatives’ Jeff Milburn.
This is the first time since the boundaries changed in 2004 that the ward is Labour-dominated.
The party won all 18 seats up for grabs in the borough – and it now has 53 out of 54 town hall seats.
There was plenty of tension as the votes were counted at Temple Park Centre, in South Shields, before a recount revealed Coun Townsley had won with 1,503 votes .
He said: “It was tight, right until the very end. I am delighted. This is down to a lot of hard work and effort.
“I have spoken to residents about a number of issues during my campaign and my aim now is to make sure I deliver on these.
“This will be the first time the ward has had three Labour councillors representing their needs in recent times – history has been made.”
Mr Milburn, who represented the ward for ten years, took the defeat well.
He said: “What can I say? I’m very disappointed, it was a close count.
“But I will be back, just you wait and see, this is not the end for me.
“There are no elections next year, but this will give me two years to plan my comeback. ”
Coun Lee Hughes, an independent councillor for the Bede ward in Jarrow is now the only opposition member on South Tyneside Council.
He said: “There’s 53 out of the 54 councillors who are Labour now. I am officially the last man standing.
“But mark my words I won’t be staying quiet, I’ll still shake things up. Someone has to keep them on their toes don’t they, and it’s all down to me now.”
The overall turnout for the borough’s vote was 33.8 per cent, compared to 58.8 per cent in 2015, with 38,835 votes out of a total electorate of 114,981.
The highest turnout was in Cleadon and East Boldon with 47.5 per cent and the lowest was in the Biddick and All Saints ward, with 26 per cent.
Two other new faces joined the council – Joan Margaret Keegan, who was elected as the new Labour councillor for the Monkton ward, and Liz McHugh, who represents Labour in the Hebburn North ward.
Despite having a traditionally ‘safe’ Labour seat in South Shields’ Harton ward, Coun Pat Hay – who scooped 1136 votes – said she would never become complacent and is always grateful to voters.
She said: “You can just never tell what the voter is going to do, so you should never become complacent.
“I am absolutely thrilled to bits to be representing the Harton ward for another term and I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.”
UKIP came second in all nine wards in which it fielded candidates.