The city’s new council leader has promised to deliver for residents after Brighton and Hove elected a majority Labour council.

The party won 38 seats across the city, securing overall control of the council for the first time in two decades.

Labour secured gains from the Greens in Preston Park, Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Fiveways, and Brunswick and Adelaide - which saw Green council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty and deputy council leader Hannah Allbrooke both lose their seats.

In Regency, Labour gained a seat from the Greens by just one vote after a closely fought race.

In Woodingdean and Hangleton and Knoll, Labour defeated long-serving Tory councillors, including Dawn Barnett, Dee Simson and Steve Bell, the Conservative group leader.

However, the Conservatives saw off challenges from both the Greens and Labour in both Westdene and Hove Park and Patcham and Hollingbury.

The Argus: Bella Sankey was appointed as the new council leader by the newly-elected Labour councillorsBella Sankey was appointed as the new council leader by the newly-elected Labour councillors (Image: The Argus)

Following a meeting of Labour’s newly-elected councillors, Labour’s Wish ward councillor Bella Sankey was appointed as group leader and leader of the city council.

Speaking to The Argus, she described the result as a “historic day for Brighton and Hove and the Labour Party”.

Cllr Sankey said: “So many of our residents put their trust and confidence in us and we have heard them and we have listened and we have managed to inspire that confidence. We are going to take that forward.

“We are going to get to work to deliver for Brighton and Hove. There has been a political earthquake in Brighton and Hove and we are ready to lead.”

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She also said that residents were “absolutely disgusted” by the “out-of-touch and nasty” Conservative government and that people were “frustrated and fed up” with Green leadership of the city.

“They don’t consult, they don’t listen, they think they know best - what the Labour Party has managed to show is that we understand and can represent people right across the city,” she said.

“We have managed to unite the city under our vision for a better Brighton and Hove with our radical and transformative manifesto.”

Greens lose 13 councillors in 'disappointing' result

Among some of the other Green losses were chairwoman of the council’s housing committee Siriol Hugh-Jones, the deputy chairman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee Jamie Lloyd, and the joint chairwoman of the tourism, equalities, communities and culture committee Steph Powell.

The Green Party is expected to meet next week to discuss the results and elect the team to lead their group of seven councillors for the next year.

The Argus: Green council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty and deputy council leader Hannah Allbrooke were ousted by Labour in Brunswick and AdelaideGreen council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty and deputy council leader Hannah Allbrooke were ousted by Labour in Brunswick and Adelaide (Image: The Argus)

Martin Farley, the group’s election coordinator, lost the seat he was contesting in Coldean and Stanmer.

He said: “The Green Party ran a positive campaign that centred our ideas for the city, but evidently we just didn’t speak to what people needed from their council.

“There will be much to decide over the coming weeks, but we are committing to work with communities across the city to assess how Greens can represent their needs over the coming months and years.

“In this election, the tide was always against us, with Labour pushing a negative campaign that blamed Greens instead of the Tory government.

“As we put the city first, our responsibility is now to hold the Labour councillors to account on behalf of the thousands of residents who voted Green.”

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, was not seen at the count, which was held at the Brighton Centre.

In a tweet, Ms Lucas said she was "so disappointed" for Green councillors in the city who had been voted out.

She said: "My heart goes ut to all who missed out, especially Phelim Mac Cafferty, who worked so hard to steer Brighton and Hove through Tory austerity, Covid and the cost of living crisis."

Labour make gains across city

Recounts were called in Regency, Brunswick and Adelaide and in Preston Park due to close races between Labour and the Greens.

Andrei Czolak defeated Green deputy leader Hannah Allbrooke by just six votes.

He said: “If you told me that would happen at the beginning, I wouldn’t have believed you. We knew it was an uphill battle; the odds were really stacked against us as Labour hadn’t won in Brunswick and Adelaide since 1996.

“Even after meeting people on the doorstep and hearing positive feedback, I didn’t think we were going to get it. I’m just so happy for myself and the entire Labour group.”

The election of Leslie Pumm in Westbourne and Poets’ Corner marked the moment that Labour surpassed the threshold needed to secure a majority on the city council.

Speaking after his election, Cllr Pumm said: “It is incredible. When I started my journey in the Labour Party, I never expected to be something but now I am serving my community of over 9,000 people.

“It’s absolutely amazing and I cannot wait to get started.”

The Argus: John Hewitt, right, was elected in Hangleton and Knoll after losing by just two votes in 2019John Hewitt, right, was elected in Hangleton and Knoll after losing by just two votes in 2019 (Image: The Argus)

John Hewitt missed out on being elected in Hangleton and Knoll by just two votes in 2019. Yesterday, he was elected as a councillor in the ward after topping the poll, almost 600 votes ahead of his nearest Conservative rival.

After his election, an emotional Cllr Hewitt said: “We’ve worked so hard as a team and it meant so much that all three of us were elected, because we have been a team all the way through the campaign.”

Woodingdean had been Conservative for all of Jacob Allen’s life, until yesterday when he was elected as a Labour councillor for the ward.

The Argus: Newly-elected Woodingdean councillors Jacob Allen and Jacqui SimonNewly-elected Woodingdean councillors Jacob Allen and Jacqui Simon (Image: The Argus)

The 24-year-old said: “This city has rejected the Conservatives - people want a progressive outlook in Brighton and Hove. They want a forward-thinking council and they won’t get that from the Tories, so they have put their faith in Labour.”

Brighton and Hove elects first openly trans councillor

In a historic result, the city also elected the first openly transgender councillor in Round Hill.

Raphael Hill, 26, had previously missed on being elected in 2019 by less than 100 votes in Goldsmid, but was voted in with a majority of over 300 in this week’s election.

The Argus: Raphael Hill, centre, was elected in Round Hill along with fellow Green councillor Pete WestRaphael Hill, centre, was elected in Round Hill along with fellow Green councillor Pete West (Image: The Argus)

Cllr Hill said: “For the trans community, representation may be nice, but ultimately they face severe levels of inequality in various different areas, and it’s making change on that that matters to them.

“While people will be pleased for me, they will still be worried about the political situation for trans people in the country more widely.

“I’ll do what I can on the council, but it’s about what results I bring rather than just being who I am.”

Wins for independents in Portslade and Rottingdean

The election also saw Peter Atkinson re-elected as an independent councillor in North Portslade, topping the poll in the ward over two Labour candidates.

Cllr Atkinson had quit the Labour group in 2021 after Anne Pissaridou, who was suspended from the party over allegations of antisemitism, was briefly allowed back as a member.

Ms Pissaridou also ran for re-election in her North Portslade ward and was beaten into fifth place behind both Labour candidates and a Conservative candidate.

Speaking after his re-election, Cllr Atkinson said he felt “elated and humbled” by the result.

He said: “There was a Labour Party machine and some really good candidates - I am only sorry that someone had to lose.”

The election also saw gains for the Brighton and Hove Independents group, founded by Bridget Fishleigh who was re-elected in her Rottingdean and West Saltdean ward.

Cllr Fishleigh will be joined by fellow candidate Marc Earthey, who was also elected in the same ward.

Cllr Earthey said he felt “exhausted but elated” and said the result had yet to sink in.

“I think this shows that if you have candidates who are rooted in their community and that have already got a track record of success, people will vote for them - and we will be looking to build on this,” Cllr Fishleigh said.

Turnout across the city was 40.8 per cent, down almost two per cent on the last local election in 2019.

Rottingdean and West Saltdean saw the highest turnout, with more than half of voters (51.5 per cent) going to the polls to vote. 

By contrast, only one in five voters (22.4 per cent) cast their ballot in the Coldean and Stanmer ward, which encompasses campuses from both of the city’s universities.

The first meeting of the newly-elected council is due to take place on May 25.