“This is a Labour city,” declared council leader John Clancy as the party bucked national trends to make gains in Birmingham.
Thought to be under threat from a Tory onslaught in half-a-dozen seats Labour instead ended the night two seats up – having taken Weoley from the Conservatives and Springfield from the Lib Dems.
Labour councillor Rob Pocock also more than doubled his majority in Sutton Vesey ward, the city’s top Tory target.
There was a silver lining for the Conservatives whose Gary Sambrook retained his Kingstanding seat under intense pressure from Labour.
Labour finished up two seats with 80, while the Conservatives with 29 and Lib Dems with ten were down one apiece. Confirming Labour will be in control of Birmingham City Council until 2018.
Cllr John Clancy, who became council leader in December, said: “We have held all of the tricky seats very comfortably and this confirms to me that this is a Labour city and will stay a Labour city.”
He accused the Conservatives of a negative campaign, in contrast to his and Labour’s ‘positive offer to the city’.
“It shows the people do not trust the Tories in Government and do not trust them to take the decisions locally. It sends quite a clear message to Government.”
Ballot boxes arrive
The good news for Labour was echoed in neighbouring authorities where it became the largest party in Walsall and made gains in Redditch.
The Conservatives hopes of winning marginal seats in Northfield, Bournville, Kings Norton and Harborne were dashed as Labour clung on in all four. In the east of the city Labour also held Acocks Green and South Yardley against the Lib Dems.
A feared challenge from UKIP, encouraged by the European Referendum, also failed to materialise in areas like Shard End and Longbridge where again Labour held on.
But Conservative leader Robert Alden refused to be downcast. He said: “It’s been pretty much treading water.
Jess Phillips interview
“I am delighted that we held Kingstanding. Eddie Freeman in Weoley was a huge loss, he was a good hard-working community councillor.
“There were a lot of near misses for us, but that shows us that we can win seats in Birmingham and sets us up nicely for the 2018 election.”
In line with previous years, the turnout was a disappointing 32 per cent – meaning that two thirds of those eligible to vote chose not to do so.