LABOUR'S cruise to election success was torpedoed by a shock green "missile" this morning.
Green Party candidate Pat Cleary became his group's first Wirral councillor when he ousted Brian Kenny in the Labour heartland seat of Birkenhead and Tranmere by a margin of 237 votes.
Cllr Cleary hailed his victory as a major breakthrough for his party.
He said immediately after his victory: "This is a major achievement for a minority group in a ward that has been Labour for ever.
"We have worked for a long time on this and people have increasingly supported us. People like what the Green Party stands for."
Cllr Phil Davies, leader of Labour-controlled Wirral Council, dismissed the shock result as a protest vote.
He said: "This is part of a trend across the country. The result in Birkenhead was clearly a protest vote."
Labour's loss in Birkenhead and Tranmere was more than balanced by gains in Leasowe and Moreton West and Pensby and Thingwall.
Cllr Davies said: "It was very sad to lose Brian Kenny who was a fantastic councillor; but I am delighted for Treena Johnson who had a fantastic result in beating high-profile Tory Ian Lewis."
He said the overall result had been a vote of confidence in the Labour-run council and the policies we are trying to pursue in the face of substantial cuts by the government.
He said: "This is a mandate to continue our good work in trying to ensure we provide good quality services with significantly less resources."
Ian Lewis said he recognised it would be a knife-edge fight (he lost by less than 190 votes).
He said: "It used to be a rock solid Labour seat and for a Conservative to win it at any time was surprising.
"The result was a disappointment. I enjoyed being a community councillor and I would not serve in any other ward."
The Leasowe defeat was the only setback for the Tory group, but they made no gains.
Group leader Cllr Jeff Green – re-elected in the West Kirby and Thurstaston ward with a 878 majority – said: "The Greens taking Birkenhead was an absolutely stunning result.
"With the General Election only 12 months away Labour should be steaming ahead in the local elections, but it hasn't happened.
"It could have been better for us but I am pleased with the results we achieved.
"The Labour Party have failed to really push through in these elections."
The Liberal Democrats held on to the two seats they were defending in Oxton and Eastham.
- Labour 38,
- Tory 21,
- Lib Dem 6,
- Green 1