Local election results kick off with Sunderland disappointment for Labour

Elliot Chappell
© Anthony McLaughlin/Shutterstock

Results have started to emerge for the May 2021 elections with a disappointing outcome for Labour in the Sunderland City Council contest that saw the party lose nine seats on the local authority in the North East of England.

After the release of the results this morning, in which the Labour group saw its share of the authority’s 75 councillors fall to 42, the count showed the party has retained its control of the council but with a reduced majority of nine.

Labour lost five of the 22 seats it was defending to the Tories and four to the Lib Dems. 25 of the 75 seats on the authority were contested in the election on Thursday, meaning that Labour was unlikely to lose control of the council.

The authority, which has been under the control of the Labour Party since its formation in 1974, had 12 Conservative councillors prior to the vote, eight Lib Dem representatives, three UKIP, one Green and one Independent councillor.

The 2019 Sunderland local elections saw Labour lose ten councillors. Council leader Graeme Miller argued at the time that this was due to Labour messaging on Brexit, saying that “the Brexit message has stepped into and over local politics”.

The council is coterminous with three parliamentary seats: Sunderland Central; Houghton; and Sunderland South. Labour held all three in the 2019 general election but with significantly reduced majorities as the Tory and Brexit parties made inroads.

Newcastle upon Tyne finished counting shortly before Sunderland. Only 26 of the 78 seats in Newcastle were up for election on Thursday, meaning that Labour could not have lost its majority. The party lost two seat to Independent councillors.

The Conservatives gained control of Harlow Council this morning. Labour ceded seven seats while the Tories increased their share of seats by seven. Labour also lost seven seats on Redditch Council as the Tories maintained control of the authority.

Labour lost four seats in South Tyneside but maintained its control with 44 councillors. Independent candidates now hold six seats, up one. The Greens took two seats bringing their total to three, while the Tories took one for a total of one.

Rochdale Council remained in Labour hands after the results came in. No seats changed hands. The Conservatives held onto Southend-on-Sea, gaining three seats, while Labour gained one seat to bring its total share on the council to 13.

Labour retained control of Gateshead. Its large majority was unchanged as it held onto all of its 52 councillors. Colchester in Essex remained under no overall control. Labour saw no change to the 11 seats it hold on the authority.

The English council votes on Thursday took place amid elections for around 5,000 councillors, 13 directly-elected mayors, 129 Scottish parliament members, 60 Welsh Senedd members and a UK parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool.

The ballots, which represent the largest set of votes to take place since the 2019 general election, are also the first electoral test for Labour since Keir Starmer assumed leadership of the party in April last year.

A result for the Hartlepool contest is expected in the early hours of Friday morning. Counting in the majority of the polls is yet to begin, with the exception of some English councils and the Doncaster mayoralty, which began counting overnight.

Reports emerged after polls closed on Thursday that the Labour leader’s team was bracing for a “difficult day” on Friday, following negative polling in the run-up to the Hartlepool by-election and fears over Sunderland and Durham councils.

Labour lost seats in County Durham in the 2019 general election to the Tories, as the party made gains in traditional Labour heartlands. Labour lost North West Durham, Bishop Aukland and Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield.

Survation polling suggested on Tuesday that the Tories are on course to win the seat with a 17-point lead. It also indicated that Boris Johnson is viewed favourably, with 51% approving of him, while Starmer was thought of unfavourably by 40%.

Both parties have played down their chances of winning the parliamentary by-election, but Labour and Conservative sources in the seat reportedly indicated after voting had ended that the Tories have won the constituency.

Below are the ward results in the Sunderland City Council election.

Washington South, Con GAIN from Lab:

Con: 37.0% (+8.5)
Lab: 36.5% (-22.7)
Grn: 16.3% (+16.3)
LDem: 7.5% (-4.0)
UKIP: 2.7% (+2.7)

Fulwell, Con HOLD:

Con: 42.4% (-3.0)
LDem: 36.5% (+32.2)
Lab: 16.9% (-16.6)
Grn: 4.2% (+0.6)

Ryhope, Con GAIN from Lab:

Con: 49.1% (+30.1)
Lab: 42.8% (-22.0)
UKIP: 8.1% (+8.1)

Barnes, Con GAIN from Lab:

Con: 48.3% (+12.0)
Lab: 41.0% (-5.5)
LDem: 6.0% (+0.5)
Grn: 4.7% (-0.1)

Silksworth, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 42.6% (-8.3)
Con: 40.8% (+24.2)
Grn: 6.8% (+1.6)
LDem: 5.2% (+2.2)
UKIP: 4.7% (-18.8)

Sandhill, LDem GAIN from Lab:

LDem: 50.8% (+46.8)
Lab: 32.4% (-22.1)
Con: 12.7% (+0.5)
UKIP: 2.6% (-23.0)
Oth: 1.5% (+0.5)

Hetton, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 44.7% (-6.7)
Ind: 19.7% (+15.2)
Con: 19.4% (+14.0)
UKIP: 11.1% (-23.7)
Grn: 2.9% (+2.9)
LDem: 2.2% (-0.9)

Southwick, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 50.8% (-10.0)
Con: 31.7% (+16.7)
UKIP: 7.2% (-10.9)
LDem: 5.8% (+2.4)
Grn: 4.4% (+1.8)

Hendon, Ldem GAIN from Lab:

LDem: 42.2% (+34.8)
Lab: 34.8% (-30.2)
Con: 15.5% (-4.8)
Grn: 4.5% (-2.9)
UKIP: 3.1% (+3.1)

Shiney Row, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 49.7% (−6.4)
Con: 32.4% (+17.7)
Grn: 6.8% (+4.4)
UKIP: 6.0% (−18.0)
LDem: 5.2% (+2.3)

Doxford, LDem GAIN from Lab:

LDem: 48.7% (+46.2)
Lab: 25.7% (−24.3)
Con: 22.1% (+1.0)
Grn: 3.5% (−2.9)

Copthill, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 42.9% (−10.6)
Con: 26.9% (+15.4)
UKIP: 13% (−15.7)
LDems: 8.8% (+8.8)
Grn: 8.3% (+2.1)

Houghton, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 48.0% (−8.5)
Con: 31.7% (+23.7)
UKIP: 10.2% (−12.3)
Grn: 6.5% (+6.5)
LDems: 3.5% (+3.5)

St Peter’s, Con GAIN from Lab:

Con: 53.8% (+14.2)
Lab: 31.4% (−14.4)
Grn: 6.4% (+0.4)
LDem: 5.4% (−3.0)
UKIP: 2.8% (+2.8)

Millfield, LDem HOLD:

LDem: 66.7% (+6.5)
Lab: 23.9% (−7.9)
Con: 7.5% (+2.1)
Grn: 2% (−0.7)

St Chad’s, Con GAIN from Lab:

Con: 59.9% (+25.6)
Lab: 32.5% (-9.1)
LDem: 7.6% (+2.9)

Pallion, LDem GAIN from Lab:

LDem: 59.4% (+55.2)
Lab: 19.8% (-29.3)
Con: 16.9% (+4.7)
Grn: 3.8% (+0.5)

St Anne’s, Con GAIN from Lab:

Con: 42.0% (+13.5)
Lab: 41.9% (-29.5)
UKIP: 8.8% (+8.8)
LDem: 7.3% (+7.3)

Washington North, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 52.8% (−20.0)
Con: 31.7% (+15.8)
Grn: 6.4% (−4.9)
LDem: 5.2% (+5.2)
UKIP: 3.9% (+3.9)

Washington East, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 47.9% (−7.7)
Con: 43.1% (+12.1)
Grn: 5.9% (−0.7)
UKIP: 3% (+3.0)

Washington Central, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 55.1% (−15.1)
Con: 31.3% (+13.6)
Grn: 7.2% (+7.2)
UKIP: 3.7% (+3.7)
LDem: 2.8% (−9.3)

St Michael’s, Con HOLD:

Con: 57.1% (+3.9)
Lab: 26.3% (−5.3)
Grn: 13.3% (+5.6)
LDem: 3.4% (−4.1)

Redhill, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 50.6% (−19.1)
Con: 30.9% (+22.9)
UKIP: 18.4% (+18.4)

Castle, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 58.1% (−20.7)
Con: 27.3% (+14.9)
UKIP: 9.4% (+9.4)
LDem: 5.2% (−3.7)

Washington West, Lab HOLD:

Lab: 51.8% (−7.2)
Con: 32.4% (+19.0)
Grn: 8.6% (+5.0)
LDem: 4.9% (+0.2)
UKIP: 2.3% (−17.0)

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