IT was Independents’ Day in Middlesbrough as local elections saw Labour trounced at the ballot box.

Labour had held majority control in Middlesbrough ever since the creation of the borough council in 1973.

Before Friday, Labour held twice as many seats as all the opposition put together – 31 Labour to five Conservatives and 10 independents. Mayor Dave Budd’s executive team was made up of nine senior Labour councillors.

But all that would change in a matter of hours as the votes began to roll in from polling stations across the town.

The first blow came in the early hours of Friday morning as independent businessman Andy Preston stormed to victory with 58% of the vote in the race to become Middlesbrough Mayor.

With Mr Preston securing 17,418 votes to Mick Thompson’s 6,693, it wasn’t even close.

The independent insurgency continued almost as soon as the count recommenced for the council seats at 11am.

Of particular note was the decimation of much of Dave Budd’s executive team.

Lewis Young was the first of the senior councillors to fall. The former executive member for economic development and infrastructure lost his North Ormesby seat to independent newcomer Ashley Waters by a margin of 371 to 142.

Then Nicky Walker, exec member for finance and governance, lost her Hemlington seat to independent Alan Bell – the margin 454 to 422.

Perhaps the biggest upset came when former deputy mayor, Charlie Rooney failed to keep his Longlands and Beechwood seat.

Voters opted to keep independent Joan McTigue in place with 956 votes and preferred to elect Labour newcomer Mary Nugent instead of Rooney.

With Mick Thompson’s mayoral loss and the trio of Dave Budd, Mike Carr and Jan Brunton-Dobson stepping down, only Julia Rostrum and Denise Rooney remain from the old executive.

As the results continued to pour in, it became more and more apparent that Labour were in big trouble.

With seats still to declare, it became clear that their chances of keeping a majority were slim.

There were tears, hugs and many stunned faces among the Labour crowd.

By the final count, and for the first time in Middlesbrough’s history, Labour did not have majority control over the council.

Speaking after the result, independent Cllr Jon Rathmell, who held his Nunthorpe seat with 1,075 votes, said: “We didn’t expect as many independents as this.

“We’ve taken some senior scalps as well. It’s extremely healthy for democracy – this is the first time in Middlesbrough’s history that Labour haven’t had control I believe.

“We’ve got 23 like-minded people that have come together during this campaign. We also have an independent mayor in Andy Preston who holds very similar ideas to those independent councillors.”

Another independent victory came to former Middlesbrough FC keeper, Jim Platt who was elected to Kader ward with 970 votes.

He said: “I feel the national political parties have let us all down, which is why I stood as an independent candidate, focused simply on doing what’s best for the people of my community and town.

“I was delighted to have so many people vote for me, which was a very humbling experience. I’ll do my best to help them however I can.”

The independents had 21 elected councillors to Labour’s 17. Three Conservatives were elected.

Middlesbrough Council is going to look very different.