Labour Comeback: Seven council seats gained in Doncaster

Labour's John Sheppard who won the Doncaster Council election for the Wheatley ward.

Labour's John Sheppard who won the Doncaster Council election for the Wheatley ward.

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Labour’s comeback is gathering momentum after the party gained another seven seats on Doncaster Council.

The election count was delayed because of verification problems connected with the AV referendum and the final result was not declared until 6am yesterday.

Labour's Bob Johnson (second left), who won the Doncaster Council election for the Edlington and Warmsworth ward. He defeated Independent Georgina Mullis (third left).

Labour's Bob Johnson (second left), who won the Doncaster Council election for the Edlington and Warmsworth ward. He defeated Independent Georgina Mullis (third left).

But the fatigue of Labour candidates was forgotten as they celebrated winning 43 seats out of 63.

Although the Liberal Democrats did badly at national level, their losses in Doncaster were not as bad as they might have expected.

Most of Labour’s seven gains came at the expense of Independents and Community Group members.

The highest profile casualty was Patrick Wilson, cabinet member for housing, who recently defected from the Lib Dems.

He failed to hold on to Town Moor where he stood as an Independent.

He said he would now take a break from local politics after serving as a councillor for 12 years.

The Lib Dems’ only loss was in Wheatley where Stephen Coddington stood down and Labour’s John Sheppard won easily, with Lib Dem replacement candidate Michelle Goodman finishing last.

Prominent Conservatives Pat Schofield, the Deputy Elected Mayor, and Cynthia Ransome, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and communities, both kept their seats with comfortable majorities.

Mayor Peter Davies will now be forced to offer the housing portfolio to someone else and Labour are hoping he will talk to them about the vacancy.

Labour leader Sandra Holland said she was “absolutely delighted” by their gains.

She claimed Labour policies were persuading voters back to the fold because people didn’t like the Coalition government making too many cuts too soon.

“We will have to see if the extra Labour councillors will have any impact on policies in Doncaster.

“Up to now Mayor Davies has filled his cabinet with Tories, Lib Dems and Independents and I am hoping he will recognise the clear message that the Labour Party has policies that people want.

“We will have to wait to see if the Mayor makes us an offer and at this stage I don’t rule anything in and anything out.”

One of the shocks of the night was when the voters of Edlington and Warmsworth gave hard-working Georgina Mullis the push.

She was still smiling despite her defeat by Labour’s Bob Johnson who beat her by 800 votes - despite her recent campaign against library closures.

Another Labour gain was in Central ward where sitting Community Group member Stuart Exelby finished third, behind winner Sue Wilkinson, who received 1,400 more votes than the second-placed Conservative.

Mr Exelby was gracious in defeat, telling Coun Wilkinson: “I’ve had nine good years and I wish you all the best and hope you enjoy it as much as I have.”

It’s now a husband-and-wife team in Askern Spa ward where Alan Jones won convincingly to join his wife, Ros, in the council chamber.

In Hatfield, Labour’s Patricia Knight held the seat vacated by her husband, Ken, and paid tribute to his mother, Joan Knight, who was also a past Hatfield ward councillor.

“If it wasn’t for my mother-in-law’s influence I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. We now have a formidable three-woman team in Hatfield,” she said.

Another woman, Sue Knowles, saw off Patrick Wilson in Town Moor, but he managed second place despite having renounced the Lib Dems earlier this year.

Wheatley’s new Labour councillor, John Sheppard, paid tribute to his wife for giving him permission to stand and said it was nice to live in “a Liberal-free zone”.

Mayor Davies’s English Democrats party failed to win any seats but managed creditable second places in Hatfield, Wheatley and Bentley, where Charlie Hogarth replaced Tony Sockett for Labour.

The BNP’s Erwin Toseland also managed a second place in Conisbrough and Denaby but there was to be no political comeback for Mick Maye, placed second in Edenthorpe, Kirk Sandall and Barnby Dun, which was a Labour victory for Tony Revill.

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