LABOUR strengthened its hold on Oxford City Council yesterday, increasing its already large majority.
Twenty-five of the council’s 48 seats were up for election on Thursday and the results were totted up during a tense count in the Town Hall.
There were loud cheers around the room as Labour held on to 14 of its seats and gained an extra three from both the Greens and the Lib Dems.
It means the party now controls 33 of the council’s seats and has a commanding majority.
Meanwhile the Lib Dems lost four seats and the Greens ended the day with one seat more than it started with. They now have eight and six seats respectively.
The Conservatives, who have failed to win a council election in Oxford since 2002, were unable to make a breakthrough and neither was UKIP.
Housing was one of the big issues in this year’s election, with a recent report saying Oxford needs 28,000 more homes by 2031.
Scott Seamons, the city executive board member for housing, won his seat of Northfield Brook for Labour with a majority of nearly 600.
He said: “I am enormously pleased to be re-elected to the city council. Being re-elected is as rewarding because it is a reflection on the work I have done over the last four years.
“If you look back at last September we passed planning permission for more new council houses than we have done in decades and that’s what is really going to changes people’s lives.”
Hugging her friend Emma Bausch and brimming with tears, Labour’s delighted Farida Anwar, left, was staggered by her election win. The new city councillor for Headington Hill and Northway’s reaction sums up a day of drama and emotion after polls closed
Tom Hayes won St Clement’s for Labour, with a majority of more than 300, beating the incumbent Lib Dem councillor Graham Jones and fending off a close challenge from the Greens, who came second.
And Richard Tarver also won Iffley Fields for Labour, beating the Greens, who held the seat, by 82 votes.
Labour’s Christine Simm also won in Cowley, replacing outgoing Shah Khan.
But independent candidate Artwell, who campaigned on the issue of the planned closure of Temple Cowley Pools, came second with 373 votes, beating the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Greens.
He said: “I am gutted that the Labour Party, who want to turn Temple Cowley Pools into a block of flats, won and I am disappointed for the people of Oxford and for myself.”
Two of Oxford’s city centre wards changed hands with Carfax and Holywell, both previously held by the Lib Dems, turning Green.
Ruthi Brandt won a fierce battle against Labour’s Alex Hollingsworth for Carfax, where Lib Dem incumbent Tony Brett – who had been Deputy Lord Mayor – came third with only 276 votes.
She said: “The Green Party has strong progressive views which I think people are looking for nowadays and the old parties are just saying the same things as each other.”
The Lib Dems managed to hold on to a number of their strongholds in North Oxford and Headington, including St Margaret’s, where Liz Wade held on to the seat which had been vacated by veteran councillor Jim Campbell despite a challenge by Labour, who overtook the Conservatives to come second.
She said: “I think the results show we have a local team that is working hard and we can achieve the sort of results we want.”
UKIP came second in a number of seats, including Barton and Sandhills, Blackbird Leys and Churchill, but they were still several hundred votes from actually winning these seats.
Ian McDonald, pictured, the party’s Oxford chairman who stood in Barton and Sandhills, said: “People are making a very clear message about where they stand on the Europe question and a lot of people are showing their protest against the current Labour council.
“I think this gives us something to build on for the future and in those seats we have come second we have become the voice of the opposition.”
There was a turnout of 37 per cent in the city council election and 38 per cent in the European Parliament election.
European Parliament results will be counted tomorrow once polls have closed across the continent.
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