New Labour strengthens grip

12th May 1995 at 01:00
The Conservative party's local authority powerbase has all but crumbled.

Reduced to controlling just one county council in disastrous elections two years ago and suffering heavy defeats in London last year, it is now no more than a rump in many cities and metropolitan education authorities.

Last week's local government elections saw Labour paint town and metropolitan authorities well and truly red.

Tony Blair's new Labour strengthened its grip on the metropolitans, with the most humiliating defeat for the Conservatives coming in Trafford - up until last Thursday, the Conservatives' last foothold outside London.

The new authority now comprises 29 Conservative, 29 Labour and five Liberal Democrat councillors. Its annual meeting on Tuesday will decide who actually runs it.

Elsewhere, Labour gained the Wirral, Walsall, Kirklees and Calderdale from a previous position of no overall control.

Sefton remains under no overall control, but Labour took three seats from the Conservatives and is now the single biggest party.

The new council comprises 29 Labour councillors, 21 Conservatives and 19 Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats, who had focused on national discontent with Conservative policies and particularly their impact on schools, had expected to increase their influence in Liverpool and Oldham.

They were to be disappointed. In the end, Liverpool remained under no overall control, but Labour gained five seats while the Liberal Democrats lost one, and "others" lost five, while in Oldham Labour took one seat - the Tory group leader's - from the Conservatives.

In Birmingham, Labour not only retained control of the city council but took 12 seats from the Conservatives, including the scalp of Tory education spokesman Les Lawrence.

In Manchester, the Conservatives lost the two seats they were defending and now hold only two others, while in Newcastle Labour gained three seats from the Conservatives. In Coventry, Labour took two seats from the Tories, and eight in Leeds.

The pattern was repeated in Bradford, where Labour gained seven seats from the Conservatives, nine in Bury and five in Sandwell. Meanwhile, in Dudley the Conservatives lost 11 seats with Labour gaining 10 and the Liberal Democrats 1.

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