Deputy council leader loses seat and Labour left without majority in Hartlepool after suffering losses
The Labour Party left without a majority, and suffered several losses including two senior councillors, as numerous parties made gains in the council chamber.
The hall of Mill House Leisure Centre, in Hartlepool’s Raby Road, was a hive of activity as it hosted the count with seats in all 11 wards on Hartlepool Borough Council contested.
Labour Councillors Rob Cook, chair of the planning committee, and deputy council leader Kevin Cranney, chair of the regeneration committee, lost their seats in the De Bruce and Foggy Furze ward respectively.
In De Bruce The For Britain Movement gained their first seat with Karen King, while in Foggy Furze, Lee Cartwright, from the Veterans’ and People’s Party, gained the seat.
In total 11 seats were up for grabs with the Labour Party winning three, Independent Union winning two, Independents clinching two, and The For Britain Movement, UKIP, Local Conservatives and the Veterans’ and People’s Party all winning one.
Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, said he was ‘devastated’ at the result and said it showed the ‘impact of a fractured party’.
He said: “I’m absolutely devastated. To have lost in my own ward, the clear message from the electorate is they will not vote for a divided Labour Party.
“The fact is we are still the largest party on the council, but all the years I have been leader of the council and when I was campaign manager alongside my husband [Stephen] we had a majority.
“As soon as the party is divided that has overridden control.”
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The Independent Union held its seat in the Hart ward with Coun James Brewer, while they made a gain with Barbara Ward in Headland and Harbour.
Independent Union leader Coun John Tennant said: “I’m very happy, we made a gain which means we’re moving forward.
“The gap with Labour is getting closer, we’ll just have to see how the weekend goes and the next couple of weeks.”
Labour did still win three seats in the election with new councillors Amy Prince in Jesmond and Helen Howson in Victoria, while Coun Jim Lindridge retained his seat in Fens & Rossmere.
Coun Lindridge said: “For me I’m absolutely ecstatic, to get the result I had.
“The main thing was the work I put in on the ward and people recognise that. That’s why people voted for me, they voted for the man not the party.”
UKIP also secured a seat on the council, through David Mincher in the Manor House ward, which was previously held by Mayor Allan Barclay.
The Conservatives held their seat in Rural West with new councillor Cameron Stokell, while Independents Coun Ged Hall and Leisa Smith held their seats in Burn Valley and Seaton respectively.
Now the council is made up of 13 Labour councillors, 8 Independent Union, 5 Independent, 3 Conservatives, 1 UKIP, 1 Veterans’ and People’s Party, 1 For Britain Movement and 1 Socialist Labour Party.
The turnout for the elections was 27.18% with 19,284 verified votes from an electorate of 70,943.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service