Coun Scott Dickinson held his Druridge Bay seat, but a number of the results in the south east of the county were devastating for the party, particularly when group leader Susan Dungworth lost her Hartley seat to the Conservatives’ David Ferguson following the first ballot draw of the night after both secured 868 votes.
However, gains were made elsewhere including in Prudhoe North and Bywell from the Tories.
The Conservatives have 34 councillors, one extra than in 2017 to just get overall control of the council. Labour have 21 councillors – three fewer than the 2017 election (24) although a couple of these councillors switched to being Independents during the four-year term.
Coun Dickinson, who had been group deputy leader, said: “My heart goes out to all Labour councillors – they have devoted daily life and energy to local people and worked with us to consistently hold the council leadership to account. As acting leader, this is something I will continue to do with the councillors elected.
“I am excited with the seats we won back in Bedlington, Prudhoe and Bywell showing that Labour can win in the West, North and South East.
“The big swing to the Tories in some wards did not happen in Druridge Bay and I’m very grateful to all those who voted for me.
“We always knew these elections would be elections like no other. We are still living with Covid and the after effects of Brexit, which have been so divisive for people of all political persuasions.
“The aim for everyone elected regardless of political colour should be to make Northumberland a fantastic place for each and every one of its residents to live in. I worry about what we’ve seen over the last few years and hope any new council cuts loose from scandal and inappropriate actions, ensuring a fresh untarnished cabinet is formed.
“We have some interesting times ahead when it comes to the Tories’ selection for the leadership of the council when you consider that the full council votes on this and we saw that some Conservatives were on our side when it came to the no confidence vote (against former council leader Peter Jackson) last year.
“We know that the county is not working for many people and we have more children relying on free school meals, people living in inadequate housing, people feeling lonely and isolated and people without decent jobs or prospects.
“I pledge, as acting leader, that I will do everything in my power to ensure these issues are always on the council agenda.
“Together we can work to make Northumberland better and our group will be working for that every day.
“Although this election has just been held, the starting gun for the next election begins today.
“Day One starts with a plan to convince the public to vote Labour at the next election. We will also continue to hold the council leadership to account as the public would expect us to.”