LABOUR have gained more seats on North Tyneside Council with both Conservatives and Liberal Democrat members blaming national policies for their losses.
Labour officials were left celebrating on Friday morning after picking up nine more seats in the council chamber – taking seven from the Conservatives and two from the LibDems.
It now means in the last three elections, the Tories have lost 20 seats to the Labour party.
The Conservatives had gone into the elections defending 11 of their 19 seats in the council chamber but are now left with just 12 councillors. The Liberal Democrats had been defending three seats, and are now have just four councillors.
And there were a number of surprises in the results.
Both Chris Croft and Michael McIntyre – group leaders of the LibDem and Conservative parties respectively – lost their seats while long standing LibDem councillor Michael Huscroft lost his Wallsend seat by just six votes.
Labour group leader Coun Jim Allan, who defended his Camperdown seat, was delighted with the results although was still unsure of what influence they would have in the council chamber.
He said: “It’s a tremendous gain in difficult times. We’re worked hard, demonstrated we represent the views of the people.
“It’s going to be very difficult in the council chamber, we don’t know if the Mayor is going to implement our budget.
“We hope the Mayor and cabinet implement our policies, which we think are the most sensible policies.
“I’m really grateful for the voters’ support. We’re going in the right direction, we need to build on our success over the last three years.”
And Coun Allan is now targeting next year’s Mayoral Election.
“We’ll demonstrate that we’ve some good positive policies that reflect the needs of the people in the borough,” he said.
“The council has to work within its means and look at other possible funding streams.”
Elected Mayor Linda Arkley blamed national policies for the Conservative losses on the council.
She said that the results could be seen as a protest vote against the Coalition Government and Prime Minister David Cameron.
“If you look back at other elections, Labour had the same sort of losses when they were in government,” said Mrs Arkley.
“I think it’s a protest vote, people haven’t turned out. The turnout was very low.
“The fact there are only 12 Conservative councillors won’t affect the way myself and cabinet work.”
And she is already planning for next year’s Mayoral election, adding: “I’ve been running my campaign for some time.
“I go out to see and meet businesses. I want the economic growth within the borough to continue increasing.
“I will ensure that my message is put across to the residents who elected me to do my job, which is to take North Tyneside forward.”
Outgoing LibDem leader Chris Croft was another to blame national policies for the losses his party suffered.
“It’s something that’s been reflected through the whole country,” he said. “Committed councillors and long-serving councillors have been a victim of the national picture.
“It’s very disappointing and I hope this sends a message back to Nick Clegg that the Liberal Democrats have lost their true identity.
“Michael Huscroft is very disappointed at losing his seat, he was a very conscientious ward councillors whose only concern was that of local residents.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down and carry on doing what we’re doing, which is working on local issues.
“I’ll be looking to stand again at the next local elections, and will still be taking an active role in the local political scene.”
The LibDem group on the council will need to elect a new leader and deputy after former deputy Graeme Brett announced his plans not to seek re-election due to work commitments.