Labour's Brenda Harrison is to become first female leader of Hartlepool Borough Council

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Hartlepool Borough Council is to have its first female council leader following Labour’s local elections triumph.

Senior figures in Hartlepool’s ruling Labour group said they were “really proud and grateful” for the results in the 2024 polls, which saw the party win nine of the 12 seats on offer.

This included making gains in seven wards, six of which were previously held by Conservative councillors.

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The result means 24 of the 36 councillors on the local authority are Labour or Labour and Co-operative Party representatives, above the 19 needed to hold an overall majority.

Labour councillor Brenda Harrison is the new leader of Hartlepool Borough CouncilLabour councillor Brenda Harrison is the new leader of Hartlepool Borough Council
Labour councillor Brenda Harrison is the new leader of Hartlepool Borough Council

The Conservatives, who had led the council in a coalition with independent and Independent Union councillors coming into the elections, managed to hold their seat in Rural West but lost out in all other wards.

Independents Jim Lindridge and Sue Little, who both held committee chair roles over the last 12 months, were able to hold onto their seats in Fens and Greatham and Seaton respectively.

Councillor Brenda Harrison, Labour group chief, is to become the council’s first female leader following the party’s victory.

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She said: “I think it’s a great achievement for Hartlepool, I don’t see it as a personal achievement, I see it as a team that’s done this and it’s really good to have a female leader at long last.

“The message for the people of Hartlepool is we will do our very best as a united group to lead the council and to make life better for the people of Hartlepool.”

She noted priorities for the Labour group will be tackling the budget, cost of living crisis, high levels of council tax and “immediate issues” they may be able to change quickly “to make things better for residents”.

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How all 48 candidates fared in the Hartlepool Borough Council local elections

Labour last led the council in May 2019, with coalitions involving Conservative, Independent Union and independent councillors ruling the local authority since then.

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Cllr Harrison added it has been a “long journey” for the party and they have been canvassing ever since then to prove they are a “group and a party that can be trusted in Hartlepool”.

Cllr Jonathan Brash, deputy leader of the Labour group and the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool, said they were “really proud and grateful to the public of Hartlepool for putting their faith” in Labour.

He added: “The results tonight were really positive, but we take absolutely nothing for granted, votes have to be earned, faith has to be earned, and that means hard work.”

The Conservatives came into the elections with 12 councillors and left with six after losing seats to Labour in Headland and Harbour, Hart, De Bruce, Rossmere, Manor House and Burn Valley to Labour.

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Jill Mortimer, Hartlepool’s Conservative MP, said the results were “really disappointing” and the party had some “great candidates” that she was “incredibly proud of”.

She continued: “It’s very very sad and disappointing for them particularly when all my candidates fought such an honest, straight and decent campaign.

“I think what we saw in ward after ward tonight is Reform have handed Hartlepool to Labour.”

She added it will be “no different” for her now the town has a Labour-led council and she will continue to “do the job and represent the people of Hartlepool the best” she can.

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Reform UK had been bidding to gain a seat on the council, with candidates standing in all 12 wards, although none were successful.

The declarations were made around 2am at Mill House Leisure Centre, with the voter turnout being 28.22%.