LABOUR managed to “stop the rot” in Sunderland to keep control of the council, although it was the Liberal Democrats who made the only gains of the night.

Senior figures in Wearside’s ruling political group said they were “delighted” with the results of the local elections, which saw them lose just one seat and leave the night with a majority of four.

In a night of minimal changes, it was the Liberal Democrats who made the only two gains, from Labour in Doxford and the Conservatives in Fulwell.

Read more: Election 2022 LIVE: Results in North East and North Yorkshire

Council leader Cllr Graeme Miller, who was among those who held seats for Labour, said the positive night for the party comes off the back of great work nationally and locally.

He said: “It was a good night tonight because we stopped the rot, over the last few years we’ve not built enough trust with people to get them to consider voting for us.

The Northern Echo:

“You add that [the work of Keir Starmer and the party nationally] to our work as a local council, where we’re delivering local services which people have asked for.

“If you do it right that means your vote will go up and it has gone up, so I’m delighted.”

He added it was “always going to be a fight” to retain his seat in Washington South ahead of Conservative candidate Peter Noble, but he has a “good track record of long service in the ward”.

Other notable holds for the party included in Hetton, where deputy council leader Cllr Claire Rowntree retained her seat, and in Silksworth, where Cllr Phil Tye was successful ahead of Conservative candidate Jack Simm.

But it was the Liberal Democrats who made gains through new councillors Allen Curtis in Doxford and Malcolm Bond in Fulwell.

Cllr Niall Hodson, Liberal Democrat group leader, said they always thought Labour would hold on to overall control, and the results mean his party is the largest it has ever been on the council.

The Northern Echo:

He said: “I think it’s quite clear now that we are the alternative to Labour in Sunderland, we can take seats anywhere from anyone where we work hard and listen to the community.

“I feel quite positive about what we’ve done tonight, positive about our progress over the last few years, and I can see a bright future for the Lib Dems in Sunderland.”

Cllr Antony Mullen, leader of the Sunderland Conservative group, who held his seat in the Barnes ward at the elections, said it was a “bit of a stalemate” between themselves and Labour.

He said: “Labour targeted us, we targeted them, neither of us were successful in that targeting, we came closer than they did to taking some of theirs.

“It is disappointing that we’ve not been able to get to no overall control which is what we were aiming for, but it’s not the end of the world because we’ve got elections next year and the following year

Now the council’s overall make-up is 41 Labour councillors, 18 Conservatives, 14 Liberal Democrats, with one independent.

There also remains one vacancy in the Copt Hill ward due to the death of a candidate ahead of the election, which will be contested at a later date.

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