LABOUR has lost overall control of Stockton Council – throwing the future of decisions at the authority into uncertainty.

The party lost six seats in all – taking 24 of the 56 seats available, while the Thornaby independents made hay.

Labour remains the biggest group in the borough, but it fell short of the 29 it needed to form a majority administration.

Group leader Cllr Bob Cook kept his Norton South seat – but said the overall picture was “disappointing”.

Cllr Cook said: “We’ve got to go back and look at what we’re going to do.

“It’s disappointing for us to lose six seats but we’ll see later on what we are going to do.

“From last night, we thought we were safe in the seats we held but obviously it wasn’t to be.

“The country is exactly the same as what’s happened elsewhere in the country where independents have won in place and Lib Dems have won in places.

“It’s definitely disappointing because we lost some good councillors and that’s always a concern as they gave a lot to the wards they represented.

“It’s a disappointing day all around.”

It was a day of gains for the Thornaby Independent Association (TIA) who took their tally from three to seven on the council – all at Labour’s expense.

Leader Cllr Sylvia Walmsley was thrilled with the group’s return.

She said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic day for us – people recognise that we are all Thornaby people who have put Thornaby first.

“And Labour showed their contempt for Thornaby by not contesting any Thornaby Town Council seats.”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives bucked the national trend by gaining two seats in the borough.

Its leader Cllr Matt Vickers was upbeat.

“Stockton decided it didn’t want a Labour council any more,” he said.

“We’ve made gains on local issues – they’ve looked at the fact council tax has gone up and they’re paying more than most people in the country.

“We’ve gained seats – it’s positive here.”

Norton West was a key turning point for Labour at Thornaby Pavilion on Friday afternoon (May 2).

It lost husband and wife team David and Norma Wilburn, the latter a cabinet member, to Tory pair Tony Riordan and Hilary Vickers.

The Liberal Democrats doubled their tally to two seats – sweeping the board in Bishopsgarth and Elm Tree at Labour’s expense.

Elsewhere, former UKIP candidate Ted Strike won a seat in Ingleby Barwick East as an independent and former Tory Andrew Sherris claimed a spot in Yarm.

And it was a tough day for the Ingleby Barwick Independent Society (IBIS) – which lost both Gillian Corr and its leader David Harrington, taking its tally to just three seats.

But the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for former Conservative seniors Maurice Perry and Bill Woodhead, the MBE who has served on the authority since 1973.

Both retained their Fairfield seats with large majorities after the former was deselected as a candidate and the latter followed him out on principle.

The question now becomes whether and how Labour forms a minority administration to run the council as it did in 2011 with IBIS.

Its 24 councillors met on Friday afternoon to discuss a way forward.  However, it remains to be seen how it holds on to power.

Final seats tally:  Labour – 24 (-6) Conservatives – 14 (+2) Thornaby Independent Association (TIA) – 7 (+4) Other independents – 6 (no change) Ingleby Barwick Independent Society (IBIS) – 3 (-2) Liberal Democrats – 2 (+1)