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.
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:
Guest, Ian – Green Party: 366
Risebury, Summer Louanne – Labour Party: 964
Rogerson, Catherine Theresa – Liberal Democrats: 113
Thompson, Adrian – Conservative Party: 529
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Barraclough, Michael Alan – Conservative Party: 485
Bowser, Roy – Labour Party: 827
Calvert, Sarah – Liberal Democrats: 129
Carr, Gillian – Barnsley Independent Group: 775