LABOUR maintained its overall control of Oxford City Council after the votes were counted on Saturday night.

A long day of vote counting, beginning at 10am and ending at 8pm, resulted in 34 seats on the council for the Labour Party.

The Lib Dems won nine seats and the Greens won three, gaining a seat on their numbers in the previous council. Two independents, Mick Haines in Marston and Saj Malik in Cowley Marsh, were also elected.

Susan Brown, who will return as leader of the council, said: “I am grateful to the people of Oxford who have shown their confidence in our Labour council.”

Ms Brown, a councillor for Churchill ward, added: “I think it is a credit to all the work of the councillors and the staff through this pandemic supporting people in Oxford. We are grateful to everyone who has looked after our city during this really difficult time.”

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Labour’s number of seats remains the same as at the end of the previous council, giving it a strong majority.

However it had expected to win a seat in Donnington where Green candidate Lucy Pegg was elected.

Outgoing Green leader Craig Simmons, who did not stand for re-election, said the gain was a ‘reflection of what is happening nationally’.

Green councillors gained seats in other authorities across England, seemingly attracting leftwing voters deterred by the current national Labour party.

Meanwhile Sajjad Malik won a seat as an independent in Temple Cowley, having previously been a Labour councillor.

The all-out election was the first of its kind for Oxford since 2002.

A boundary change meant every seat on the authority was up for grabs this time, with some of the electoral wards even renamed as part of the change.

Usually only half of the seats on the council are up for re-election, but this time all 48 seats across the 24 electoral wards were presented in the poll.

Because of this, every voter was able to select two candidates on the ballot paper, with many opting to split their vote between two different political parties.

READ AGAIN about the election result as it happened

To deal with the split voting, the staff counting votes used a special technique for counting, sometimes known as the ‘grass skirt method’.

This involved lining up the ballots in rows of 25 on a large piece of graph paper, ticking off the number of votes each candidate received.

However, there was a suggestion that not everyone voting realised they had two choices, as many ballots only contained one crossed box.

One of the most hotly-contested wards was Marston, with all the parties fielding candidates, and the Conservatives focussing their efforts there.

Mick Haines, an independent councillor,was elected to the ward, and described how he had canvassed the area in a unique manner due to an injury.

Unable to walk long distances, his daughter drove him around in a car while he shouted slogans like ‘Stick with Mick’ from a megaphone.

Mary Clarkson, Labour’s candidate, won the other Marston seat.

Though the Tories saw gains across English councils, they did not win a seat in Oxford, with one election agent describing the challenge as similar to the Conservatives winning in the Labour stronghold of Liverpool.

Five recounts took place to verify the results for Quarry and Risinghurst.

In the end Roz Smith for the Lib Dems took the highest number of votes, with Labour’s Chewe Munkonge taking the second seat.

All of the councillors who took the second place seat in each ward are set to face elections again next year as the system of voting by halves returns after the boundary change.