THE Labour surge in Hartlepool was led by five community-spirited women who have vowed to use their experiences to make a difference.
The Dyke House, Owton, Foggy Furze and Hart wards all fell to Labour, as the party gained five seats and held six.
Newcomer Sylvia Tempest held the Labour seat in Rift House, which had been vacated by the party’s Gladys Worthy.
Linda Shields was voted into the Dyke House ward after being a resident representative, the treasurer of Hartlepool Access Groups’ executive committee and the secretary of the area’s residents’ association.
The 56-year-old mum-of-one, who is married to council worker Paul, 53, hopes to use her new position to improve the town further for disabled people as she has had to use a wheelchair for 15 years after a fall on ice damaged her spine.
Coun Shields, of Lime Crescent, Hartlepool, said: “I will fight for disabled people in Hartlepool.
“I believe most things can be overcome and there is very little I can not do because of my condition. Hopefully, I can encourage others to think the same.”
Incoming Labour councillor Angie Wilcox, who won the Owton ward seat, has been working in the voluntary and community sector for more than 30 years.
She helped set up the Owton Fens Community Association (OFCA) before moving to Manor Residents’ Association, in Kilmarnock Road, were she is now the manager.
The 48-year-old believes it is that network of support that helped her win.
The mum-of-one, who lives in Wynyard Road, said: “I have been working in the voluntary and community sector for more than 30 years and that has definitely stood me in good stead.
“There are 27 members of staff at Manor Residents’ and the same amount of volunteers and I have received hundreds of messages of support on Facebook and loads of text messages too.”
New Labour councillor Kaylee Sirs, who represents the Foggy Furze ward, has paid tribute to the former Labour councillor Michael Johnson, who died in 2009 at the age of 41.
The former Rossmere councillor, who was also a campaign manager for Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, “inspired” Coun Sirs to move into local politics.
Coun Sirs, 38, who lives in Charterhouse Street, said: “I have been a long-term Labour supporter, but it was five years ago when I got more involved and that was down to the late Mick Johnson.
“He inspired me to get more involved.”
The married mum-of-one, who works at Hartlepool Mind, added: “He saw something in me – that I was willing to stand up for what I believe in.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Jean Robinson, who represents the Hart ward, said she was “dumbstruck” to have won.
The 65-year-old widow, who lives in the Clavering area and works for the NHS, said: “I didn’t expect to win and I can’t believe people have voted for me in this number.
“I just want to help people and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
The fifth Labour seat was won by Mick Fenwick in the Brus ward.
Mum-of-two Sylvia Tempest, who works as a programme co-ordinator at Groundwork North East and lives in Lancaster Court, has been elected to the Rift House ward.
Coun Tempest said: “I have always been interested in working in communities and I volunteer my services at the Rifty Youth project.
“I guess I just wanted to get more involved and I feel I have the necessary skills to be a good councillor.”
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