WHILE Labour had an afternoon of several close calls – with one ward decided on a coin toss – as votes for a third of the borough’s council seats were tallied, Barnsley’s Liberal Democrats celebrated considerable gains.

Barnsley's local elections were postponed last year, owing to the pandemic, but parties fielded bumper numbers of candidates this year – including the Liberal Democrats who, for the first time, contested every available seat.

And of the 21 available seats, they were the party to make the most wins – taking Darton East from Labour, Dodworth from the Barnsley Independent Group (BIG), and Penistone West from the Conservative Party.

The latter of those three becomes totally Liberal Democrat-controlled, after Coun Mandy Lowe-Flello beat Conservative Martin Bancroft, 1,444 votes to 1,172.

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In Darton East, Coun Mat Crisp of the Liberal Democrats won 1,119 votes and took the seat, with Labour's Dave Webster gaining 722 votes in second.

Coun Crisp's success, confirmed today (Friday, May 7) at the Metrodome, follows up on Liberal Democrat colleague Coun Steve Hunt's 2019 win – one of seven seats taken from Labour in that election, a famously poor night for the party.

The Liberal Democrats also unseated BIG leader Phillip Birkinshaw in Dodworth, Coun Chris Wray narrowly winning with 804 votes against Mr Birkinshaw’s 757. Labour candidate Emma Johnson-Henshaw had 677.

Coun Wray joins Coun Peter Fielding, who ousted Labour’s Richard Riggs in 2019, as the second Liberal Democrat in the ward.

Across the country, it was a tough day for Labour, who lost their majority in neighbouring Sheffield – but they managed to cut their losses in Barnsley, retaining 49 seats albeit not all the same as what they started the day with, and only losing one.

They got 677 votes in Dodworth and had some narrow wins elsewhere, including in Darton West where Coun Alice Cave held her seat with 1,051 votes – but Conservative Party candidate Marie Bates was a close second with 914.

The closeness of things was perhaps most visible in the rare use of a coin toss to decide on Rockingham’s result after a series of recounts.

Coun Nicola Sumner could be heard cheering on the floor as the coin landed on tails for Labour.

She beat Conservative Roy Garratt, with whom she was tied on 1,084 votes.

The hotly-contested Rockingham ward, initially expected before midday, forced a series of long delays.

Hoyland Milton Coun Mick Stowe, with 1,153 votes, came out narrowly ahead of Conservative David White who got 1,040.

One fairly significant win for Labour was in Stairfoot, where independent Wayne Johnson – who was controversially deselected by the party as their candidate, before continuing as an independent through the pandemic – lost out to Coun Karen Dyson, 689 votes to 895.

Worsbrough returned to Labour control after Roy Bowser beat BIG’s Gill Carr, 827 votes to 775.

More people than ever voted remotely, with close to 50,000 residents reported as using postal voting - an increase of almost two-thirds. Turnout eclipsed 2019's figures in a number of wards, including Central, Royston and the two Darton wards.

A third of all the borough's 63 seats were available. Before the current election, Labour held 48 seats – meaning they would have to lose 17 of the 21 contested seats to give up their majority.

BIG were defending two seats - Dodworth and Worsbrough – both of which they lost, while the Conservatives defended one, Penistone East, held by leader Coun John Wilson.

The first seat up was Kingstone. Labour's Coun Pooja Ramchandani won 699 votes, taking the seat ahead of Peter Doyle of the Barnsley Independent Group who got 396.

Labour's seat in the Central ward, made vacant following the death of former councillor Doug Birkinshaw, was re-taken for the party by Coun Summer Risebury with 964 votes.

Current Mayor of Barnsley Coun Caroline Makinson held her Royston seat with 1,034 votes, well ahead of Kirk Harper of BIG who won 700 votes.

Barnsley Council leader, Coun Sir Steve Houghton, was also defending his Cudworth seat – which he won by a large margin in 2016 – and again won by the vast majority in this year's election. He won 1,368 votes. Conservative Mark Brook was runner-up with 316.

Likewise the popular Coun Steve Green in Monk Bretton, who defended his seat comfortably with 1,260 votes. Conservative candidate Michael Toon garnered 486 votes.

Old Town was held by Labour, with Coun Phil Lofts well ahead with 1,084 votes – Clive Watkinson, of the Conservative Party, got 578 and came second.

Coun Jeff Ennis also successfully defended the North East ward, with 1,268 votes ahead of BIG candidate Raymond Archer’s 746.

Coun James Higginbottom won Wombwell with 1,346 votes, with Alex Wilkinson of the Conservative Party second with 648, holding the Labour seat.

Labour retained St Helen’s, with Coun Sarah Tattersall gaining 983 votes. Donna Cutts of the Conservative Party had 330.

Coun Dorothy Coates held Dearne South for Labour, soundly beating Jacob Griffin of the Conservatives, 1,364 votes to 398.

Because of restrictions due to coronavirus, winning candidates weren't able to make speeches.

Full results are as follows:

Central Ward

Guest, Ian – Green Party: 366

Risebury, Summer Louanne – Labour Party: 964

Rogerson, Catherine Theresa – Liberal Democrats: 113

Thompson, Adrian – Conservative Party: 529

Cudworth Ward

Arnold, Mark Anthony – Barnsley Independent Group: 285

Brook, Mark James – Conservative Party: 316

Houghton, Steve – Labour Party: 1,368

Waters, Elizabeth Kate – Liberal Democrats: 75

Darfield Ward

Bennett, Kevin – Liberal Democrats 77

Harrison, Benjamin John Richard – Conservative Party 600

Osborne, Kevin – Labour Party 1,166

Semley, Victoria – Barnsley Independent Group 372

Stringer, Graham – The For Britain Movement 98

Tonkinson, Kris – Independent 21

Darton East Ward

Crisp, Mat – Liberal Democrats: 1,119

Love, Sharon – Barnsley Independent Group: 587

Mcara-Marsh, Kirsty – Green Party: 135

Miller, John Michael – Conservative Party: 323

Webster, Dave – Labour and Co-operative Party: 722

Darton West Ward

Bates, Marie – Conservative Party: 914

Cave, Alice – Labour Party: 1,051

Heyes, Tom – Green Party: 755

Waters, Andrew Stephen – Liberal Democrats: 85

Dearne North Ward

Cain, Wendy Ann – Labour Party: 1,052

Hill, George – Conservative Party: 412

Hulme, Simon – Liberal Democrats: 49

Jarvis, Savannah – Social Democratic Party: 47

Spencer, Maxine – English Democrats: 162

Dearne South Ward

Coates, Dorothy – Labour Party: 1,364

Fielding, Linda – Liberal Democrats: 70

Griffin, Jacob Graham – Conservative Party: 398

Jarvis, David Alan – Social Democratic Party: 259

Polenceusz, Janus – English Democrats: 74

Dodworth Ward

Birkinshaw, Phillip – Barnsley Independent Group: 757

Johnson-Henshaw, Emma – Labour Party: 677

Ogden, Lee – Conservative Party: 651

Trotman, Rebecca Jean – Green Party: 178

Wray, Chris – Liberal Democrats: 804

Hoyland Milton Ward

Evans, John Brian – Green Party: 232

Lawrence, Glenn Charles – Liberal Democrats: 99

Simpson, Daniel – Independent: 331

Stowe, James Michael – Labour Party: 1,153

Waller, Angela – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: 60

White, David Andrew – Conservative Party: 1,040

Kingstone Ward

Doyle, Peter – Barnsley Independent Group: 396

Giles, Peter Gordon – Green Party: 181

Holland, Tracey-Ann – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: 41

Levitt-Smillie, Ian – Conservative Party: 310

Ramchandani, Pooja – Labour Party: 699

Turner, Carlo – Independent: 85

Wright, Philip David – Liberal Democrats: 123

Monk Bretton Ward

Green, Steve – Labour Party: 1,260

McNair, Gary – Barnsley Independent Group: 415

Nicholson, Matthew Rigden – Liberal Democrats: 46

Scarfe, Chris – Green Party: 102

Toon, Michael John – Conservative Party: 486

North East Ward

Archer, Raymond – Barnsley Independent Group: 746

Christmas, Sam – Liberal Democrats: 65

Ennis, Jeff – Labour Party: 1,268

Wilkinson, Samuel Joe – Conservative Party: 498

Old Town Ward

Fielding, Will – Liberal Democrats: 112

Hardcastle, Liam James – Barnsley Independent Group: 390

Lofts, Phil – Labour Party: 1,084

Mageean, Estelle Marie – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: 26

Nixon, Gillian Margaret – Green Party: 203

Watkinson, Clive – Conservative Party: 578

Wood, Donald – Independent: 124

Penistone East Ward

Burnett, Alex – Labour Party: 988

Raynor, Kate Helen – Green Party: 309

Waters, Susan Jane – Liberal Democrats: 1,034

Wilson, John Major – Conservative Party: 1,954

Penistone West Ward

Bancroft, Martin Richard – Conservative Party: 1,172

Dillingham, Edward – Reform UK: 166

Grainger, Sarah Louise – Labour Party: 745

Lowe-Flello, Mandy – Liberal Democrats: 1,444

Trotman, Richard Thomas James – Green Party: 338

Rockingham Ward

Belk, Andy – Keep Equality Safe Party: 75

Fletcher, Karen – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: 115

Garratt, Roy – Conservative Party: 1,084

Grinham, James – Green Party: 289

Nugent, Paul – Liberal Democrats: 124

Sumner, Nicola – Labour Party: 1,084

Winner decided on a coin toss

Royston Ward

Davies, Michael – Conservative Party: 422

Fisher, Neil – Independent: 95

Harper, Kirk – Barnsley Independent Group: 700

Layton, Simon Michael Bullivant – Green Party: 78

Makinson, Caroline – Labour Party: 1,034

Smith, Patrick Dimelow – Liberal Democrats: 46

St Helen’s Ward

Booth, Sarah Elizabeth – Liberal Democrats: 52

Chambers, Mick – Yorkshire Party: 233

Cutts, Donna – Conservative Party: 330

Jones, Alan – Green Party: 91

Tattersall, Sarah Jane – Labour Party: 983

Vajda, Steve – Social Democratic Party: 38

Stairfoot Ward

Dyson, Karen – Labour Party: 895

Hill, Elizabeth – Conservative Party: 363

Johnson, Wayne – Independent: 689

Kitching, James Robert – Liberal Democrats: 42

Thewlis, Kay Louise – Barnsley Independent Group: 364

Wombwell Ward

Higginbottom, James Lewis – Labour Party: 1,346

Kusners, Simon Nicholas – Green Party: 127

Rose, Susan Mary – Liberal Democrats: 79

Seymour, Jon – English Democrats: 103

Stewart, Amy – Independent: 108

Thompson, Rachel Louise – Social Democratic Party: 17

Wilkinson, Alex – Conservative Party: 648

Worsbrough Ward

Barraclough, Michael Alan – Conservative Party: 485

Bowser, Roy – Labour Party: 827

Calvert, Sarah – Liberal Democrats: 129

Carr, Gillian – Barnsley Independent Group: 775