It was a night to forget for Labour in St Helens as the party suffered a series of heavy defeats.
Labour retained 10 seats but was crushed in Haydock by Green Party candidate David Van Der Burg and also lost Bold to the Greens, with David O’Keefe narrowly defeating Liberal Democrat candidate and former councillor Brian Spencer.
Coun Van Der Burg won with 1,791 votes, beating Labour’s Jeanette Banks, who racked up 788 votes.
Labour was defeated by a massive margin in Rainhill, with independent Donna Greaves winning the seat with 2,352 votes, beating Labour’s Joe De’Asha with 1,098 votes.
Green belt issues no doubt played a massive part in Labour losing Rainhill, Bold and Haydock, with all three areas seeing resistance to the St Helens Local Plan.
Elsewhere, Liberal Democrat candidate David Smith won Newton with 1,173 votes, narrowly defeating Labour’s Fiona Ruddy, who managed 890 votes.
UKIP, which entered candidates in Billinge and Seneley Green, Moss Bank and Windle, failed to come close in any of the wards it contested.
Despite suffering a bloody nose, Labour has still maintained control of the council – although that was never in doubt due to only a third of the seats being up for election. Overall, Labour held 10 seats and lost four.
Deputy council leader Sue Murphy said the party will need to “reflect carefully” on the night’s results.
Coun Murphy said: “Whilst we recognise the concerns and frustrations of the borough, national issues have fatigued the public and we understand the widespread frustration with the wider system in general, together with a low turnout and a high number of protest votes.
“As a party in control of the council, Labour have been forced to take difficult decisions we would never have wanted to make to deliver £90 million worth of cuts imposed on us by central government.
“We will reflect carefully on tonight’s results but we need to remember whilst it is of course disappointing to lose seats and good colleagues, we have held the majority of seats across the borough, with our policies of fairness, jobs and fighting to protect the most vulnerable residents in our society from cuts to public services.
“Rest assured tomorrow Labour councillors will be back working for the people of the borough.”
In Rainhill, Labour lost one of its longest-serving councillors in Joe De’Asha.
Mr De’Asha served as the Labour group’s chief whip for some time until recently giving up the position to focus on his election campaign.
The result has echoes of last year’s local elections, when independent Rainhill candidate James Tasker crushed Labour’s Stephen Glover.
Following the result, Coun Greaves said: “Rainhill’s really, really shown that this is what they want.
“They’ve got an appetite for change with James (Tasker) last year, and they’ve continued this.
“The momentum’s just brilliant. We’re not a one-trick pony, we’re out there in force, and thank you so much Rainhill.
“We’ve listened to you, and you’ve got a choice and a voice now.”
The new make-up of St Helens Council is Labour (37), Liberal Democrat (4), Conservative (3), Green (3) and independent (2).