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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
City ousts Labour after 30 years
Tony Flynn
The defeated Labour council leader blamed national issues
The Liberal Democrats caused one of the biggest shocks of this year's local elections by taking control of Newcastle City Council.

It means the end of more than 30 years of Labour control of the city council.

The upset included the council's Labour leader and deputy leader losing their seats.

Tony Flynn and his deputy Keith Taylor lost their seats as their Fawdon ward fell to the Liberal Democrats, who took 44 seats.

Mr Flynn blamed national issues, like the Iraq war, for the party's defeat in the city.

He said: ""It was national issues that affected us. We were not able to break the national swing that was going against us.

It is certainly a very sad day for the Labour party
Newcastle East and Wallsend Labour MP Nick Brown

"I think both nationally and locally we have to listen to what the people have said."

The Liberal Democrats overturned a deficit of 30 seats to take control. The new council will be made up of 30 Labour and 48 Liberal Democrats.

Newcastle East and Wallsend Labour MP Nick Brown said: "It is certainly a very sad day for the Labour party.

"We have lost some very experienced and very hard-working public representatives and I feel very, very sad about that indeed and sad for them personally but also sad for the city of Newcastle."

He said the Liberal Democrats had campaigned on the issue of the war in the Iraq. He said he believed Conservative voters had voted tactically against Labour.

But Newcastle Liberal Democrat leader Peter Arnold said he believed there were a number of reasons for Labour's defeat.

Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy visited Newcastle on Friday

He said: "The quality of services in Newcastle have suffered. I think the war in Iraq is a factor in why Labour lost and could be the reason for many of their supporters either voting for someone else or not at all.

"If there was a slogan to describe Labour in Newcastle it would be, 'not a very good local council and not very good services'."

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy arrived in the city in the afternoon to congratulate his party. He said voters in Newcastle had given the party great trust and said they would not let them down.

In Gateshead, Labour kept control of the council, although it lost three seats, while the Liberal Democrats gained three.

The new council will be made up of 43 Labour seats, 22 Liberal Democrats and one Liberal.

In North Tyneside, the council remained under no overall control. The Conservative gained six seats, while Labour lost three and the Liberal Democrats lost one.

In South Tyneside, there was no change with Labour retaining overall control. The new council will be made up of 35 Labour seats, 12 Independents, four Liberal Democrats and three Conservatives.

Votes have also been cast for the European elections and the results of these are due to be announced on Sunday night.



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