No seats changed hands in the elections to Gateshead Council on 3rd May. Though Lib Dem Susan Craig came within 53 votes of taking the Labour ward of Lobley Hill and Bensham, Labour's Frank Donovan managed to just hold off the Lib Dem attack on the once rock solid Labour bastion.
But if Labour were happy with being able to cling on to Lobley Hill and Bensham, Lib Dems were equally happy to have held off Labour in 2 other wards where they mounted big challenges. In both Dunston Hill and Whickham East and Crawcrook and Greenside, the Lib Dems triumphed with increased majorities.
Most Labour attention was focused on Dunston Hill and Whickham East. But Labour slipped back when their candidate Gary Haley, who fought the ward last year (and fought Whickham South in 2002, 2003 and 2004) saw Lib Dem Yvonne McNicol nearly double her majority to 521.
And in Crawcrook and Greenside, Labour candidate Helen Hughes who also fought the ward last year, saw Lib Dem Derek Anderson increase his majority to 514.
Gateshead News editor Jonathan Wallace enjoyed an embarrassingly successful list of "biggests" in the Gateshead elections! - the biggest majority (1473), the biggest vote (2043) and the biggest share of the vote (70%).
The record for the worst performance of the night goes to the Conservative candidate in Lobley Hill and Bensham, Hazel Anderson, who mustered only 121 votes. She will hopefully take comfort from the result not reflecting on her but rather on the fact her party was heavily squeezed in the ward by the Lib Dems who were slugging it out with Labour to win the seat.
Nevertheless, the Conservatives continue to poll poorly in Gateshead. Their best seat was Chowdene where they took 578 votes, but they are still 1000 votes off winning.
The BNP's hopes of winning a seat were dashed when their top target of Dunston and Teams slipped ever further from their grasp. The BNP had high hopes of success in the by-election in the ward in September 2006 but ended up trailing behind the 2nd placed Lib Dems with Labour retaining the seat. This time the BNP remained firmly stuck in 3rd place.
Returning to the council after a 3 year absence is Labour's Stephen Ronchetti who won the vacant seat in Blaydon ward though his majority was down to less that 300 over Lib Dem Mark Gardner.
Another face familiar to Gateshead Council to be elected was Bob Goldsworthy who held Bridges ward for Labour. This is Bob's first stint as a councillor but, as the husband of the current mayor, Maureen Goldsworthy, he is the Mayor's Consort.
Congratulations to all those elected and commiserations to those who were defeated.
We of course have to go through the whole process again next year! Oh joy!