COUNCIL ELECTIONS: Newport turns red as Labour takes control
10:25pm Friday 4th May 2012 in Election news
A NAIL-BITING third count brought the council elections to a close in Newport this afternoon.
Former Deputy leader, Ed Townsend of the Liberal Democrats survived by a single vote to become the party's sole remaining representative on Newport City Council.
The St Juilans recount secured a seat for Rhys Hutchings, better known as part of GLC.
Before this dramatic finish, it was a night of celebration for Labour in Newport as they reclaimed the city from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
Supporters whooped and cheered as seats across the city turned from blue and yellow to red.
Former Conservative strongholds, such as Rogerstone and Stow Hill, were claimed by Labour, along with the former Lib Dem-led ward of Beechwood, which saw several cabinet members lose their seats.
Among them were Tories Peter Davies and William Routley, and Liberal Democrats David Hando and Mike Hamilton.
Lib Dem leader Ed Towns-end only found out his fate late yesterday afternoon after three recounts were held for the St Julians ward amid talk there was only one vote between two candidates.
He scrapped to victory by just one vote to retain his seat as the only Lib Dem councillor after Labour candidates Goldie Lookin Chain rapper Rhys Hutchings and Emma Garland stormed to victory and ousted Carmel Townsend and Gill Ford.
Cllr Hutchings joked he hadn't worked as hard since completing his Duke of Edinburgh award when he was 15.
But, on a serious note, he added his aim was to give something back to Newport and get young people interested in politics.
When asked what his GLC bandmates thought of him standing for election, he said they were "coming round to the idea of politics" and may all decide to stand at the next election.
Labour leader Bob Bright was "too tired" to speak to the Argus on the night and went home before the results of last few wards were declared.
Yesterday, a refreshed Cllr Bright told the Argus he was "unavailable" for comment at the St Julians recount.
Outgoing council leader Matthew Evans said he was "disappointed" the Conser-vatives had lost seven seats, but vowed to continue to work for a better Newport.
He said: "The odds were heavily stacked against us.
"Clearly we are disappointed, but I don't have any regrets. We have got to be positive about the future.
"We have had some young, enthusiastic candidates standing for the first time and they will be back to fight another day."
The Allt-yr-yn councillor said his administration had left a lasting legacy in Newport, citing the £21 million road improvement scheme Project 21 as just one of its successes.
But he said the number-one priority now must be the £100 million Friars Walk development set to transform John Frost Square.
He said: "We (the Conservatives) will do anything to assist to ensure this development progresses."
The current council make up is 35 to Labour, ten to Conservatives and two independents.
Three seats in the St Julians ward, currently held by Lib Dems, will be declared later today.
The turnout was 33.89 per cent.