DESPITE the loss of two seats, Labour are claiming a council election victory.

One of the surprise stories of the night was Norman Hazell's success in the Wakefield South ward under his new Independent banner.

And the deputy mayor elect, John Newsome, lost his Wakefield Rural seat to the Conservatives by just 30 votes.

The new deputy mayor elect is rumoured to be David Atkinson, who won the Stanley and Altofts ward with a large majority. This decision will be made at a future Labour Group meeting.

All the results for the Wakefield district are now in, with Labour having lost two seats, Ossett to the Liberal Democrats and Wakefield Rural to the Conservatives.

Speaking at the Town Hall after the count, council leader Peter Box hailed the result as a ringing endorsement of the current administration in Wakefield.

He said: "People predicted we would lose lots of seats but we have not done so and we are pleased with the result."

A jubilant Norman Hazell said:"It's recognition of what I have done for the people of Wakefield all my life. I'm thrilled the people of Wakefield South have shown their confidence in me."

"I had a tremendous fight on my hands against the party machines of Labour and Conservatives with all their financial backing."

Fellow Independent Coun Brian Hazell said:"It goes to show that the name is bigger than the party."

The overall turnout for the district was 23.5%, compared to 21.3% last year and 22% the year before.

The new political make-up of the council is now: Labour (53), Conservative (5), Independent (3), Liberal Democrat (2).

For the results in full, click on the Local Elections button on our home page.