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The tight calls and recounts which decided who was elected as a councillor in Swansea

By Richard Youle

Every election candidate knows the rules of the game but there must still be an extra sense of deflation if you lose out by a handful of votes. Hence the bitter-sweet speech at the council election count in Swansea by Louise Gibbard, who took one of the three Dunvant and Killay seats but said she was "heartbroken" that her Labour colleagues had just missed out.

The new ward was one of six particularly hard-fought areas, although county-wide the voting patterns were broadly similar to those in 2017 with Labour winning by a large majority. The top six candidates in the three-seat Dunvant and Killay ward polled between 1,248 and 1,442 votes. Liberal Democrat husband and wife Jeff and Mary Jones finished first and second, with Cllr Gibbard close behind in third.

The three winning candidates had previously represented Killay North, Killay South and Dunvant, which had four seats before the electoral map was redrawn last year. "We thought all along it was going to be very close," said Cllr Mary Jones.

"None of us were confident. When we were watching the count some boxes came out in favour of Jeff and I, and you could tell they were the boxes from Killay. The Dunvant boxes were in favour of Labour, but obviously Jeff and I had enough support in Dunvant to get us over the line. It was a really hard campaign."

READ MORE: Swansea local election result 2022: Labour holds onto power

Cllr Jones said she still wasn't happy with the newly-drawn ward. "To be fair I don't think Labour are either," she said.

Another new ward, Mumbles, which replaced the smaller Oystermouth ward, was keenly contested between the Conservatives and Labour. The Tories showed up well, taking all three seats, including newcomer Francesca O'Brien. Poll-topping councillor Will Thomas said he was relieved and pleased, given the travails of his party nationwide in the local elections. "I was very happy with the result," said Cllr Thomas.

In densely-populated Sketty, the Liberal Democrats fended off Labour to claim all five seats. Only 22 votes though separated the fifth and sixth candidates. Tight calls are nothing new in the ward, said Cllr Mike Day, who topped the poll with 2,509 votes.

"Given the nature of the ward, we did expect a close competition and we are happy that people have responded by placing their trust in us," he said. "The challenge for us now is that we are in a position to ensure we represent the whole of Sketty, and not just those who voted for us."

Francesca O'Brien, one of three Conservative councillors for Mumbles (Richard Youle)
Independent councillor for Clydach, Matthew Bailey (Richard Youle)

The dreaded coin toss wasn't a million miles away in the Clydach count - the last of Swansea's 32 wards to be called - but Labour conceded defeat after two recounts. There were three seats up for grabs in the redrawn ward, where the campaign was feisty at times to say at least. Independents Gordon Walker and Matthew Bailey secured the most votes, with the Conservatives' Brigitte Rowlands finally claiming third spot, eight votes ahead of Labour's Susan Powell.

Cllr Bailey said in his acceptance speech: "It has been a very difficult campaign - I think we are all aware of that. We all care, regardless of what party we support, and we're looking forward to working for Clydach for the next five years."

Labour came out in top in the new Pontlliw and Tircoed ward - a beaming Victoria Holland 26 votes ahead of Independent Byron Lewis - but lost ground to the Uplands party in the Uplands ward, the latter gaining all four seats.

Overall, though, the day belonged to Labour. It now has 45 councillors, the Lib-Dems 11, the Conservatives seven, the Uplands Party and Independents four each, the Independents@Swansea three, and the Green Party one. Labour leader Rob Stewart praised the "strong Labour vote", and added: "We are grateful to the people of Swansea and will carry on with the delivery that we promised."

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Dive Deeper:
Some of the new faces representing Swansea after the local elections
It includes the city's first ever Green Party councillor
The man who started his own political party and now rules the roost in Uplands
The Uplands Party now has all four seats in Swansea's Uplands ward, and Cllr Peter May is pretty chuffed
Edinburgh Election 2022: The winners and losers of this year's council vote
There were a number of closely-fought contests in this year's Edinburgh Council election but ultimately the nine seats lost by…
Unlucky coin toss election loser says he couldn't make 'heads or tails' of 'bonkers' voting patterns
The tight calls and other election battles which decided who will represent many people in Carmarthenshire
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Plaid exploring possibility of coalition at Neath Port Talbot Council after Labour lose overall control
Plaid's group leader at Neath Port Talbot Council, Alun Llewelyn, said the party is "eager" to discuss a programme of…
What happens next at the Vale of Glamorgan council after the local elections
A new leader will need to be appointed
Get all your news in one place