Tyne & Wear

Labour takes North Tyneside elected mayoral post

Norma Redfearn
Image caption Norma Redfearn described her win as "truly wonderful"

Labour's Norma Redfearn has won the North Tyneside mayoral election.

Ms Redfearn took 55% of the votes at first count meaning a second was not needed.

She defeated Conservative incumbent Linda Arkley, who took 36% of the votes, and Liberal Democrat John Appleby, with 8%.

Elsewhere, Northumberland County Council remained hung with Labour gaining the most seats. Labour also held on to Durham County Council.

In Northumberland Labour increased their seats from 17 to 32. The Liberal Democrats dropped from 25 to 11 seats.

The Conservatives gained three new seats and now have 21.

In the Amble West and Warkworth ward, Conservative Jeffrey Watson beat rival Lib-Dem candidate Juliet Porksen by just a single vote (432 to 431).

Grant Davey, Labour group leader of the county council, said: "We believed our manifesto was the right one for Northumberland.

"We campaigned on a promise to build 1,300 houses, mainly in the social sector, to try and lower our 12.000 waiting list.

"Young people realise they cannot get on the housing ladder and have thrown themselves onto the council housing list. We need to help these people."

'National issues'

Jeff Reid, leader of the council's Liberal Democrats, said: "Five years ago we were the party of demonstration, but now as part of the coalition government, we've had to make some difficult decisions and people are unhappy about the general economy.

"So it's not surprising that we've got this result.

"These elections are fought on national issues, which is a shame because we are about delivering local services to local people."

In North Tyneside, Ms Redfearn, a former head teacher, described her win as "truly wonderful" and said it "sent a message to national government".

Turnout was 32%, dropping from 38% in the last election in 2009, and from 61% in 2005.

Ms Redfearn said: "This sends a message to national government about the kind of things that are happening in our council.

"They are causing great concern to the families in North Tyneside."

She put her victory down to "knocking on doors and talking to residents".

"My priorities are initially to look at the borough," she added.

"Where we can get jobs, because that's one of the concerns people have felt.

"There should also be opportunities for young people, as well as more affordable housing."

Ms Arkley said the election had been about North Tyneside issues, not national ones.

"I congratulate you as the elected mayor," she said.

"I hope you will continue the good work that has happened over the last four years."

In County Durham Labour held on to the council, taking an extra 24 seats, mainly from the Liberal Democrats.

Out of 126 seats up for grabs, Labour won 94, with independent candidates taking 19 and the Lib-Dems nine - a loss of 16.

The Conservatives came fourth with four seats - a loss of seven on their total from 2008.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) fielded 31 candidates, but failed to win any seats.

The average turnout across the county was 27.8%, but in some wards that figure was as low as 19%.

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