Labour narrowly fail to gain overall control of Hartlepool Borough Council by three votes

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Labour have celebrated becoming the biggest party on the council in Hartlepool's local elections - but remain one seat short of an overall majority after losing one ward by two votes.

Labour won nine out of the 12 available seats on Hartlepool Borough Council - making gains in five wards - with the Conservatives edging home by two votes in a tightly-contested poll in Hart while also holding Rural West.

Just three more votes in Hart – where there were two recounts – would have given Labour 19 of the council’s 36 total seats and therefore overall control of the authority.

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The result means 18 of the 36 councillors on the local authority are Labour or Labour and Co-operative Party representatives.

Candidates and their supporters wait for the outcome of the Hartlepool Borough Council local election results.Candidates and their supporters wait for the outcome of the Hartlepool Borough Council local election results.
Candidates and their supporters wait for the outcome of the Hartlepool Borough Council local election results.

Talks will now take place to see if they can secure a deal or coalition to ensure Labour lead the council for the coming year, which it last did in 2019.

Since then the local authority has been ruled by a coalition between Conservative, Independent Union and some independent councillors.

Councillor Brenda Harrison, Labour group leader, who was successful in holding her seat in the De Bruce ward, said the party had hoped to gain four councillors in the polls and were pleased with the outcome of the elections.

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She added: “We’re a very strong group, the new candidates are also going to be a strong asset to the group.”

She added the party is hopeful of building on their success in future council and parliamentary elections.

Councillor Jonathan Brash, deputy leader of the Labour group and the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate, said: “We’re really proud of the results we’ve had, we’re really proud to have increased our numbers on the council.

“I’m not rejoicing tonight, the hard work starts now, we’ve still got a hung council.

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Read More
A full list of how every candidate fared in the Hartlepool Borough Council 2023 ...

“Our first job is to fight to be in control of that council so that we can start delivering for people so we can make life easier.

“We’ve made some very clear pledges in this election and we will deliver them, because we know those are the priorities of Hartlepool people because we’ve listened to what they’ve had to say.”

Labour Party gains included Phil Holbrook in Fens and Greatham, Matthew Dodds in Headland and Harbour and Steve Wallace in Throston.

Seats won in Victoria, through Karen Oliver, and Martin Dunbar in Foggy Furze, were previously held by Conservatives.

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However, the Tories made a gain of their own in Hart, where Rob Darby won by two votes ahead of the Labour candidate David Innes.

Councillor Mike Young, Conservative group leader on the council, who was re-elected in Rural West, said the “disappointing” result is “a measure of the wider political landscape”.

He said: “There’s a lot of work to do and we accept that, whilst we do feel since 2021 it can’t be underestimated the fact that we’ve brought £75.5million into the town of fresh investment to start regenerating the town.

“It’s a bit disappointing that we’re in this position tonight, we will battle on because that’s what we do.

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“We want to continue pushing that agenda, whether we’re in power or not, we want to be the ones that are steering that change, that’s our ambition, our mandate, our overall aspiration.”

Labour also held seats in Burn Valley, Rossmere and Manor House with Councillors Ged Hall, Tom Feeney and Ben Clayton being elected to serve for another four years.

Reform UK had been bidding to gain a seat on the council, with 10 candidates standing, although none were successful.

The remaining available seat was won by independent councillor Leisa Smith who was re-elected to serve the Seaton ward for the next four years.

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It has already been confirmed the local authority will have a new leader, with Independent Union representative Councillor Shane Moore stating he will be standing down from the role to “find a better work-life balance”.

The voter turnout was 24.20%.

A full breakdown of results will follow shortly.