Shock result leaves Labour feeling blue

GREAT Yarmouth Borough Council is a deeper shade of blue following the local elections, which, in a shocking result, saw Labour leader Trevor Wainwright lose his seat.

GREAT Yarmouth Borough Council is a deeper shade of blue following the local elections, which, in a shocking result, saw Labour leader Trevor Wainwright lose his seat.

Jaw-dropped Labour councillors looked on in amazement as Conservative candidate Alan Grey was announced councillor for Bradwell North, pipping Mr Wainwright by 48 votes.

Tories roared with cheer and applause as the result was announced, bringing Mr Wainwright's hold of the seat to an end.

An astonished Mr Grey described his elation at pulling off an unlikely win.

He said: “It is like winning the lottery. I am just proud to have done my bit for the Conservative party and the Conservatives in general.”

The Conservatives were also victorious in Magdalen with Patricia Page beating Labour councillor Colleen Walker by 64 votes.

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And the winning streak continued for the Conservatives with leader of the borough council Barry Coleman retaining his seat in West Flegg. Yarmouth mayor Paul Garrod held on to Yarmouth North beating Labour's Charles Marsden by almost 200 votes.

Mr Garrod said: “I am absolutely over the moon. I felt very nervous in the run in to this election, but I would like to thank the people of North ward for putting their trust in me for the next four years.”

Labour councillors Mike Taylor, Tony Blyth, Michael Jeal and Penny Linden held on to their seats, historically strong Labour wards.

The Liberal Democrats failed to build on the success from a by-election in Bradwell South and Hopton earlier this year with Aleck Buchanan, one of six candidates fielded in the election, polling 433 votes less than seat winner Tory Stephen Ames.

The Green's and UKIP also failed to add a little extra colour to the political landscape despite fielding candidates.

Speaking to the Mercury shortly after the announcement for Bradwell North, Mr Wainwright said he was “deeply disappointed” to have lose his seat.

He said: “I'm very disappointed. I have represented this area for the last six years and feel I have been a good local councillor. I think national issues, certainly the 10p tax rate, affected the vote.

“I was surprised by the result as when I was visiting people on doorsteps earlier this week I thought the support was there.”

Mr Wainwright will still have a presence on the local politics scene in his role as county councillor for Breydon division.

“I'm still a force to be reckoned with,” he added.

Leader of the borough council Barry Coleman paid tribute to Mr Wainwright saying he had “always been a good local councillor.”

Mr Coleman secured his seat in West Flegg polling the most votes of the evening with 1,068.

A delighted Mr Coleman said: “While I was quietly confident you can never take anything for granted. Although it is traditionally a safe Conservative seat voters don't just fall from the trees. I feel that in Martham my 30 years' experience and working for the electorate has paid off.”

Mr Coleman believed the results showed that voters were becoming increasingly annoyed with the current Labour government.

“In my opinion Gordon Brown has become more unpopular in the last 10 months that Tony Blair did in 10 years. You can't help but think national issues came into play in this vote.”

A tense atmosphere filled the Assembly Room last Thursday evening at the count.

A sigh of relief passed over the face of Nelson ward councillor Michael Jeal as he was re-elected.

Mr Jeal, who has held Nelson for 22 years, feared national issues could have swayed voters away from the labour party.

He said: “When I was at the polling station several people mentioned the 10p tax rate and other issues but I made a promise to voters that I would focus on issues important to the people in Nelson ward as I have always done.”

Labour's Penny Linden was victorious in Southtown and Cobholm ward, which she has held for nine years.

Ms Linden said she was pleased to be re-elected despite her votes dropping by 173 from the last time she was elected.

“Obviously I realise the post office is a big issue in my ward and I will continue to campaign against closure.”

The Tories had a good show in Central and Northgate ward with 18-year-old politics student Tom Garrod polling 560 votes with winner Labour's Mike Taylor netting 636 votes.

Mr Garrod said: “I did better than I expected. It has been hard campaigning while doing college work.”

Mr Taylor praised Mr Garrod's “fair” battle and said having such a young candidate stand in the local elections was “like a breath of fresh air”.

He added: “I just wish more young people would get involved in local politics. He is a very nice young man and with the support of his family has put up a good, fair campaign.”

The Tories gained another seat in Magdalen with Patricia Page beating Labour's Colleen Walker by 64 votes.

Charles Reynolds was also returned to his Ormesby seat with 997 votes compared to the 251 received by Labour's Jenny Livingstone. He believed his work on coastal erosion at Scratby and his views on the planned Yartoft unitary authority got him re-elected.

“I think you will find it is the biggest majority in the borough and I think it is because I am the only candidate who has campaigned strongly on the Yartoft issue and Scratby coastal erosion,” Mr Reynolds said.

The Tories now have 24 seats on the borough council and Labour 15.