LABOUR tightened its grip on Oxford City Council last night, leaving party supporters to celebrate two big victories.

The party gained the two seats it needed to secure an overall majority, ending six years of minority administration rule which has swayed between Labour and the Lib Dems.

While Britain now faces being governed under a hung parliament – with Labour suffering a large number of losses nationally – Oxford has bucked the trend by returning Labour to overall control.

The party triumphed as Van Coulter took Barton and Sandhills from the Lib Dems and Scott Seamons wrestled back Northfield Brook from the Independent Working Class Association.

Both seats were considered ripe for the taking after being vacated by their previous incumbents.

The result means Labour now holds a slim majority of 25 seats on the 48-seat council.

Among the cheerleaders, whooping and celebrating every Labour victory at the Town Hall was Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, fresh from celebrating Thursday’s win again Lib Dem Dr Steve Goddard.

Dr Goddard returned to the scene of his General Election defeat to attend the local election count and again saw his party endure a lacklustre result as they upped their share of the council by just one, to hold 17 seats.

The Lib Dems won the most closely contested ward, St Clement’s, with the result needing to be re-counted four times before it emerged Graham Jones had eventually pipped the incumbent Green councillor Mary-Jane Sareva to the seat by 14 votes – winning by 898 votes to 884.

The result put paid to the celebrations of Labour big-hitter Sabir Hussain Mirza, who moved to the ward from Lye Valley, and was set to become Deputy Lord Mayor by winning the seat from the incumbent Green candidate.

The Lib Dems’ Tony Brett also took Carfax from the Greens after Sushila Dhall stood down to fight as an MP for Oxford East.

However, the Lib Dems meagre gains were tempered by the loss of Barton. The Tories again failed to win a single seat on the city council – a drought which has gone on for 10 years.

Labour leader Bob Price said: “We have got total control now, which is a reward for how hard we worked running a minority administration and bringing services to the people.

“A majority council can make decisions more quickly and with more certainty, but this will not see us lose our commitment to cross-party working which we began in 2008.”

Mr Price said his priorities for the new council would be to make huge cost savings in its waste recycling collections while reaching its 50 per cent target for residential recycling.

He also pledged to increase the provision of council and affordable homes, while improving private rented housing and striking a better balance between private family homes and rented accommodation.

The new make-up of the council gives Labour 25 seats, the Liberal Democrats 17, Greens five and the IWCA one.