Labour cabinet member loses seat as party keeps majority in Hartlepool
Labour has maintained its majority in Hartlepool - but lost one of its most senior councillors.
Alan Clark, the lead member for Hartlepool Borough Council's Children's Services Committee, lost his seat in Fens & Rossmere to Putting Hartlepool First candidate Tony Richardson.
Councillor Richardson polled 827 votes to Mr Clark's 715.
However, Labour claimed a seat in the Jesmond ward, formerly held by an independent, keeping them on 19 seats out of the 33 on the council. The independents now have seven, Putting Hartlepool First have four, and the Conservatives three.
Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said: "I'm delighted that we have maintained our majority in the council. We came with 19 councillors tonight and we leave with the same number.
"The budget is set for the year, which is really good. The Labour party in Hartlepool will continue to deliver for the people of Hartlepool.
"To maintain our majority was the most critical thing. We will keep doing a good job for the people of Hartlepool."
The newly elected Councillor Richardson was jubilant about his win, and said he would oppose the ruling Labour group and fight for the people who elected him.
"I feel really good to have won a seat," he said. "I have fought them all the way in the civic centre and all the way to the election."
Coun Richardson said a political rival had told him he had "put a good person out of a job" by unseating Labour's Alan Clark - but said it was the "people who voted" for him that had made the decision.
"They are the people who are behind me and they are the people who I will be working for," he said.
"No-one will tell me what to do. I will work for the people who elected me. I don't have to follow a whip."
He added: "All you get told by the council is about Government cut backs, but they are not doing enough for the people of Hartlepool.
"I think I'll make a difference in the next two years. I'm proud to be councillor of the area I was born in and lived in all my life."
Fewer than one in four voters turned out to cast their ballots in Hartlepool
The turnout was 24.05%. That's a total of 16,943 verified votes from an electorate of 70,453.