1.35AM ELECTION UPDATE: Ex council leader led away by police

St Helens election night at the town hall - Seve Gomez-Aspron, Sophie Robinson, Paul Lynch, and Jo-Ann Willmitt
St Helens election night at the town hall - Seve Gomez-Aspron, Sophie Robinson, Paul Lynch, and Jo-Ann Willmitt

FORMER council leader Brian Spencer was led away by police following a scuffle during tonight’s local election count.

Mr Spencer, who lost his Sutton seat to Labour’s Jimmy Jackson by more than 800 votes, was then consoled by colleagues away from the main hall.

It is unclear at this stage whether any arrests were made.

In a disastrous night for the Lib Dems, the party’s local deputy leader, Suzanne Knight, also lost her seat.

Seve Gomez-Aspron collected 1,453 votes in the Newton ward to Knight’s 1,349.

Suzanne Knight had been due to become Mayor next month when Tom Hargreaves relinquishes the 12-month role.

In contrast, buoyant Labour strengthened their grip on the Town Hall with five gains - four from the Lib Dems and one from the Conservatives.

Labour candidates took Moss Bank, Newton, Sutton and the Town Centre from the Lib Dems and Windle from the Tories.

Labour also held every seat they were defending - Billinge and Seneley Green, Blackbrook, Bold, Earlestown, Haydock, Parr, Rainhill, Thatto Heath and West Park.

The only seats the Red Rose candidates failed to win were Rainford, which the Conservatives held, and Eccleston, which was held by former Mayor Teresa Sims.

Labour now hold 40 of the borough’s 48 seats, with the Lib Dems now holding five and the Conservatives three.

Council leader Marie Rimmer, whose seat was not up for election this year, described the night as “a landslide”.

She said: “We’ve run a good campaign but I also think people have woken up to how they are being betrayed by the coalition Government.

“Despite the massive cuts we have been faced with, St Helens Council - under Labour - has protected frontline services. And we’re doing our best to protect those in our community who are most vulnerable.

“They will not be betrayed by us. We will honour our commitments and continue to work hard in the public interest.”

Deputy council leader Barrie Grunewald, who comfortably held his seat in Rainhill, agreed: “The residents of St Helens have spoken out loud and clear. We’ve got some very difficult decisions ahead but will continue to work hard throughout the year and listen carefully to voters’ hopes and concerns.”