Leeds stays red despite national defeat

Leeds Local Elections 2015 at the Leeds First Direct Arena
Leeds Local Elections 2015 at the Leeds First Direct Arena
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THEIR parent party might have been feeling more than a little blue from the previous night’s General Election rout, but red was definitely the colour as Labour kept a firm, iron grip on control of Leeds City Council.

The political make-up of the authority remains virtually unchanged, with Labour retaining 63 seats and a massive overall majority in the council chamber.

There was one gain for the Conservative party in Calverley and Farsley, where Amanda Carter - wife of the Tory group leader Andrew Carter - was elected to a seat previously held by an Independent who was himself a defector from the Conservatives.

The Tories now have 19 seats on Leeds City Council, up one; the Lib Dems are unchanged with nine seats, as are the Morley Borough Independents with five and the Green party with three.

On any other day, such a resounding endorsement might have been marked with champagne corks popping.

But the mood at Leeds first direct Arena yesterday after the local election count- even among the victorious councillors - was a little downbeat after the national trouncing and the thick blue hue at Number 10,

However despite the bittersweet local result, there were positive words from councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of the Labour group and of Leeds City Council - who announced just days ago that he is to step down from the top role - who said: “Despite the disappointing national picture, the local election results in Leeds give a clear indication that the people of the city back the hard work of their local Labour councillors and have re-elected them on that basis.

“In the face of over £250m of government cuts to the council’s budget in recent years and despite the loss of around 2,000 staff, the Labour administration has continued to focus on protecting public services as much as possible and the council’s work has led to a booming city centre that is now the hub of the regional economy.

“The local results give us some hope that we have a basis from which to protect the NHS and vital services for vulnerable young and older people, as well as secure much needed investment in the city to create more jobs and apprenticeships for the people of Leeds.

“We now have a strong, diverse selection of Labour councillors that represent all ages and many communities from across the city.

“As a council administration I know Labour councillors will continue their hard work to do everything they can to ensure the best future possible for all those communities that they represent.”

Among those greeting the new-ish dawn was Neil Walshaw, who retained his seat in Headingley for Labour with an increase majority, despite a strong challenge from the Green party candidate.

He tweeted: “A total honour to be re-elected in #Headingley”.

Asghar Khan, who was returned for a second term in Burmantofts and Richmond Hill for Labour, said:” Overall I am disappointed because of the national picture but for Leeds it’s a great result. I’m looking forward to continuing to represent the wonderful people of Burmantofts and Richmond Hill.”

Dan Cohen, who retained his Alwoodley seat for the Conservatives with a 2,500 majority, and whos e ward was the last Leeds council result to be announced, tweeted his “huge thanks” to the electors, and was also full of praise for his “amazing, loyal, hardworking and really quite cool” Conservative colleague Andrea Jenkyns, who had ousted shadow chancellor Ed Balls from the Morley and Outwood parliamentary seat in perhaps the most dramatic result of the whole Leeds election 2015 campaign a night earlier.

The overall voter turnout in Leeds for the city council election was 64.3 per cent, compared to 65.5 per cent for the general election.

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