Sheffield voters turn on the Lib Dems as Labour seizes back control of Town Hall.
LABOUR was jubilant in Sheffield today after a successful night at the polls - as the city turned against the Liberal Democrats.
First results from the count at English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe were not declared until after 1am today and the final outcome was hanging in the balance into the early hours.
But early indications were that Labour had regained power at the Town Hall.
Lib Dem leader Coun Paul Scriven, appearing to concede defeat, said: “I’m very disappointed that some good community activists and councillors who stood up for their communities and have delivered so much for Sheffield are likely to have lost their seats.
“It is not on the back of their record but because of people voting on national issues at a very difficult time.
“I understand people feel unsettled by the national situation but, as a country, we can’t carry on borrowing £400 million a day.
“I’m very clear, however, that this is a setback for the Lib Dems but not the end of the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield. We will remain a strong force.”
Coun Scriven added: “I’m very clear that when the dust settles people will see the good results of the Lib Dems in Government.
“Pensioners will be £15,000 better off from having the link to earnings restored, 250,000 extra apprenticeships are being created and low-paid people lifted out of paying income tax.
“These people who wanted to stick two fingers up at Nick Clegg and the Government have handed the city to a party that has a terrible record with mostly the same old faces as when they lost power three years ago.”
There were 28 seats up for grabs on the council – a third of the 84 seats. Before last night, Lib Dems had 41 seats, Labour 40, and there were two Greens and one Independent.
First seat to declare was Southey but the result was not until 1.10am.
It was a landslide for Labour, with the party’s defending candidate Leigh Bramall taking almost three times the other candidates’ votes put together.
He took 2,927 votes, Lib Dem Christine Tosseano polled 403, Tory James Gould took 365 and Eamonn Ward, of the Greens, had 347 votes.
Lib Dems were expecting to lose all their marginal wards – East Ecclesfield, Hillsborough, Walkley and Gleadless Valley.
Councillors losing their seats were set to include cabinet member for housing, Coun Penny Baker, wife of Lib Dem deputy leader, David Baker.
David Blunkett, Labour MP for Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “The incoming Labour administration will have a lot of problems to face.
“But we are very happy that Nick Clegg has got his comeuppance. This time last year it was Cleggmania, now it’s Clegg Pneumonia.”
Speaking before the final results were declared, Labour leader Julie Dore said: “Local people feel very let down by the Lib Dems, both nationally and locally.
“Obviously at the moment the vast majority of results have not been declared.
“We are not taking anything for granted however we are very hopeful that the results will be good for Labour. Whatever the outcome we will continue to stand up for Sheffield.”
Turnout was set to be low, with only 30 per cent turnout in Southey, the first ward to declare. The average was around 60 per cent last May, higher due to the General Election.
Mr Blunkett added it was ‘very heartening’ that Labour had received a massive win in the first ward to be counted - but added that he believed the party would not win by a landslide.
He said: “We needed to win three seats to take control and I believe we will win six. The challenge now is for the Labour group on the council to engage with the public in Sheffield, the business community and universities,
“They need to throw open the books to show the scale of the challenge facing the council. Julie Dore, like every incoming leader including myself 31 years ago, will need to take a moment to reflect upon the situation she finds herself in but I am sure she will grow into an excellent council leader.”
Results in Sheffield were delayed due to workers checking through all votes to ensure there were no AV referendum ballot papers mixed in.
Returning Officer John Mothersole said: “The issue meant it took an hour between ballot boxes arriving and the start of the counting process.
“It meant the results were delayed but we are a large city and it is very important that we get the results right.”