Joy for Telford Labour as they secure record election results
Telford & Wrekin's Labour Party enjoyed a record evening as they strengthened their domination of the borough council – while the Conservatives endured a miserable night.
The results saw Labour claim 38 of the 54 seats available on Telford & Wrekin Council – two more than their 2019 result, which was at the time the party's best ever.
Although boundary changes meant like-for-like comparisons across wards were not always possible it was undoubtedly a disappointing evening for the Conservatives, who took only eight seats – five down on the 13 they had claimed in 2019.
The Liberal Democrats made gains, taking six seats, up two from the four they secured in the previous election.
There was also room for two independents to win seats – Peter Scott, who won in Newport West, and Jenny Urey from the newly formed Telford Independents, who took a Muxton seat from the Conservatives.
Labour Leader Councillor Shaun Davies was thrilled with the result, saying it was a reflection of his administration's commitment to tackling local issues, and looking to improve the lives of residents.
He also set his sights on main issues for the coming term, and said the council would be starting legal proceedings over the controversial New Works Solar Farm imminently.
The council leader also criticised what he said were "gutter politics" experienced during the campaign, and said the results were an endorsement of focussing on issues.
He said: "I am absolutely delighted. In 2019 we bucked the national and regional trend and today we have followed the national and regional trend by following Keir Starmer's leadership and gaining two new seats.
"It means on the new boundaries we made gains in Lawley, Ketley, Ercall and Donnington, and ran the Conservatives close in places like Priorslee and some of our rural areas.
"This is a testament to the work of the council over the last few years. We have tried to be a council on the side of our residents and we will continue to do that."
Councillor Davies, who was elected in the Malinslee and Dawley Bank ward alongside his wife, Elise Davies, said bettering the 2019 result was a "phenomenal" achievement.
He said: "I think if you look at 2015 when we lost the parliamentary seat and kept control of the council, in 2019, when we had such a disaster as a party in the General Election we had our record results, and we went into this set of elections with a huge high water mark and it was very, very difficult for us to make significant gains. To match that would have been a great achievement, but to gain two seats is phenomenal."
Conservative group leader Councillor Andrew Eade, who had returned to take over the leadership of the group in the middle of the last term after his predecessor Councillor Nigel Dugmore stepped down, said it had been a disappointing evening.
The Church Aston and Lilleshall Councillor said that national issues had plagued their campaign, with voters put off supporting his party because of frustration with the government.
He said: "I am bitterly disappointed of course. We have lost some very hard working and dedicated councillors.
"Undoubtedly the electorate, and I can understand the reasons why, want to give the government a bloody nose, and national issues cropped up on the doorstep time and time again."
He added: "It is a shame really, it is a council election and should be fought on local provision of local services.
"But as ever if you have a government that is unpopular in its cycle then it is local councillors that tend to suffer and pay the price for it.
"I have been in this position before, when we were down to three seats in the 1990s.
"Now we fought back from that and rebuilt from the group and eventually took control of the council, so to end up with eight councillors is a far better base to start from than in the late 90s – however, that is not to say it is not disappointing."
There were two recounts on the night.
The first came in the Donnington Ward where Labour took both seats through Fiona Doran and Ollie Vickers.
Doran had claimed 774 votes to win outright, but the ward's second seat was a tight contest with Vickers gaining 720 votes, a handful more than Conservative Jay Gough who polled 706.
The Muxton recount saw the Telford Independents claim their first seat since being formed, with Jenny Urey polling 618 votes.
The second place was the subject of lengthy recounts, with Conservative Nigel Dugmore retaining his seat after securing 546 votes, just a few more than third place independent Iain Alexander who polled 535.