UKIP hails '˜massive statement' as party hits five seats in Hartlepool

Newly-elected councillor hails '˜massive statement' from UKIP as party's influence in Hartlepool grows

Friday, 6th May 2016, 2:29 am
Updated Friday, 6th May 2016, 4:35 am
The three new UKIP councillors, front, mean the party now has five council members in Hartlepool.

The party gained three seats in yesterday’s local elections, meaning it now holds five of the 33 seats on Hartlepool Borough Council.

The count was held at Mill House Leisure Centre.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was a day which also saw council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, of Labour, hold onto his seat by just 80 votes.

UKIP’s Shane Moore, meanwhile, secured the Headland & Harbour Ward by just two votes from Labour’s Jim Ainslie, who had held it.

He was one of three party members to be voted in, with Bob Buchan and John Tennant gaining the Fens & Rossmere and Jesmond wards from Putting Hartlepool First and Labour respectively.

Mr Moore described it as a “fantastic night” for the party.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.

He said: “The response on the doorstep was really good, but you never really know until the results come in. It was very nerve-wracking, and I hardly had any nails left by the end. I’d like to thank my mum and dad, as their votes probably made the difference!

“It has been a fantastic night for us. It was even extremely close for the leader of the council.

“If even the council leader has only just managed to keep his seat, and he’s the most well-known council figure in Hartlepool, then that shows how far we’ve come. It’s a massive statement from the party.

“I grew up in Hartlepool and it’s a great feeling to be elected by the people here. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.”

The count was held at Mill House Leisure Centre.

Mr Akers-Belcher, meanwhile, saw off competition from UKIP’s Darren Paul Price to hold onto the Foggy Furze ward by 80 votes.

He then declared that he, too, was happy with the night’s results, with Labour still holding 21 of the 33 seats in the council.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the result. I came into the building with a majority of Labour councillors and I’ve left it with a majority of Labour councillors. It just goes to show that if you are a good community councillor, you will be returned.

“It has been tighter in the ward before. I still polled the highest in Hartlepool as a Labour candidate.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.

“I’ve still got my majority on the council, so this has been a good night for us.

“We will now concentrate on continuing to do the good work that we’ve started over the last three years. We’d like to make Hartlepool a better place to live and work.”

Labour made one gain on the night, with Dave Hunter taking the Burn Valley ward from Independent councillor Jonathan Brash, who stood down.

The party also held five seats, and lost two of them – Harbour and Jesmond to UKIP.

Conservatives’ Ray Martin-Wells and Putting Hartlepool First’s Ray Martin-Wells and James Black held onto Rural West and Seaton for their parties respectively.