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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 23:54 GMT 00:54 UK
Council leader loses seat
Diane Bunyan
Diane Bunyan had been a councillor for 12 years

The leader of Bristol City Council has lost her seat - just a year after her predecessor was voted off the council.

Labour's Diane Bunyan was defeated by Mark Bailey of the Liberal Democrats as her party lost overall control of the city council for the first time in 19 years.

Ms Bunyan - a councillor for 12 years - polled just 917 votes (27.32%) compared with 1558 votes (46.42%) for Mr Bailey.

In 2002 George Micklewright, then Labour leader of the city council was unseated, also by the Lib Dems.

'Disappointing results'

The loss of their leader marked the end of a dismal evening for Labour in Bristol, which has controlled the city for all but one of the past 30 years.

The party lost a total of five seats on the council, four of which went to the Liberal Democrats and one to the Conservatives.

Diane Bunyan said she was looking forward to having more time to spend with her family.

Bristol South MP - and Paymaster General - Dawn Primarolo said the results were disappointing.

"I think the people of Bristol seem to have decided they want a change.

"I am desperately disappointed, firstly for Diane Bunyan, an excellent leader of the council, who has lost her seat, and because we have lost our majority of two, but we are still the largest party."

Even before the votes were counted, party chairman Paul Smith admitted things were not looking good for Labour in the city.

Voted off

He told the BBC: "The electorate are going to deliver their judgement and I can't pretend results aren't what they are.

"I'm not the spokesman for Baghdad pretending the tanks aren't rolling through the city when it's on fire."

Independent parties also failed to make much of an impression on the electorate.

The Bristolian party, founded by a local free newspaper, fielded 11 candidates but failed to win any seats.

Ms Bunyan was not the only council boss in the region to lose their seat - Labour's Kevin Stephens, leader of Gloucester City Council, was also voted off.

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