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Labour lose Council Leader and control of Sheffield Council on bruising night for party

New Council Leader Bob Johnson has lost his Hillsborough seat, with the Greens making big gains.

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Photo by Tim Green on Wikimedia Commons.

Labour have lost their majority on Sheffield City Council, after losing eight seats on a disappointing night for the party across the UK.

Five of the seats lost by Labour have gone to the Greens, who have increased their seats on the council to 13. The Lib Dems have picked up the other three seats.

28 of the Council's 84 seats were up for re-election on Thursday. New Council Leader Bob Johnson lost his Hillsborough seat to the Greens, in a shock result for the city.

The Conservatives also won their first seat on the Council since 2007, taking Stocksbridge from independent Jack Clarkson (formerly UKIP).

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A breakdown of Thursday's results in Sheffield.

Sam Marner.

“We are delighted to have 13 councillors and a no overall control situation," Green councillor Alison Teal told Now Then. "This is a real opportunity for the parties to work together for the people of Sheffield.”

Labour has held the majority on Sheffield City Council since winning control back from the Liberal Democrats in 2011, who were negatively affected by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government of 2010 to 2015.

The result mirrors results across the UK – in Hartlepool Labour lost a Westminster seat the party has held since 1964, and they have also lost hundreds of council seats.

Labour's decade of power in Sheffield has been dominated by the dispute over street trees, which led to angry clashes on the streets between police and protestors and opposition councillor Teal almost being sent to prison.

This led to a campaign for a referendum on how the city is governed, the results of which are expected to be announced on Monday.

If the campaign is successful and the city adopts a Modern Committee system, a minority Labour administration could struggle to pass policies through committees where they don't hold a majority.

They could also be subject to greater scrutiny, as opposition councillors are given more powers to question and challenge decisions made by the ruling group.

Indications from members of the It's Our City! campaign at the referendum count say it looks like the vote will go their way.

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Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash.

"Today's results on the council with Labour losing control have shown there's clearly an appetite for change in Sheffield," Charlotte Mead from the Women's Equality Party told Now Then correspondent Benedict Tetzlaff-Deas.

"If the Committee Model wins on Monday then I think we might see it, as it will mean the parties have to work together."

Elections to Sheffield City Council are held in three years out of four. A third of the Council's 84 seats are re-elected each time, with councillors serving four year terms.

Like all councils in England, Sheffield are forced to use a first-past-the-post electoral system, which unfairly allocates the number of seats compared to the number of votes for each party.

This means that despite winning nearly a fifth of the vote combined at the last election in 2019, UKIP and the Conservatives won no seats on the council.

Despite winning 22% of the vote in 2019 the Greens only won 14% of the seats, while Labour won 46% of the seats on 32% of the vote.

Some grassroots Labour members have already launched an open letter to the party's National Executive Committee, calling for the next leader of Sheffield's Labour group to be elected by an all-member ballot. Leaders of the Labour group are usually elected through a ballot of the party's councillors.

Long-serving Green Party councillors have hinted at the possibility of forming a coalition or some form of working agreement.

"Lots of hard work to come," Nether Edge & Sharrow councillor Peter Garbutt told Tetzlaff-Deas. "We've got to get a working relationship with other parties up and running pretty fast."

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