Nick Forbes has survived a bid to remove him as Newcastle City Council’s Labour leader.

It emerged on election night last Thursday that the figurehead’s position was under threat, with rival Nick Kemp mounting a leadership challenge against him.

But Coun Forbes is set for at least another year in the top job after winning a crunch vote on Monday night.

He emerged victorious in a leadership election held at the Newcastle Labour group’s annual meeting, by a margin of 30 to 22.

But while Coun Forbes has kept hold of his position, there will be a significant shake-up of the city’s Labour leadership.

West Fenham councillor Karen Kilgour defeated Coun Forbes’ long-serving deputy, Joyce McCarty, in the deputy leadership race with 28 votes to 24.

Coun Kilgour currently holds the health and social care portfolio on the council’s cabinet, but is seen as an ally of Coun Kemp.

Councillor Karen Kilgour
Councillor Karen Kilgour

Coun Forbes has been leader of the Labour group since 2007 and of the council since 2011, when Labour reclaimed power from the Liberal Democrats.

The Arthur’s Hill ward councillor is also one of the Labour Party’s most senior local government voices in the country, leading the party’s group on the Local Government Association and sitting in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

Coun Kemp, who represents the Byker ward, was previously a high-profile member of Coun Forbes’ cabinet, with responsibility for issues such as trading standards and bin collections in his role as cabinet member for environmental and regulatory services.

But he sensationally quit the cabinet last summer in a bitter row in which he claimed that he was being undermined by “constant sniping” and “personal animosities”.

Labour lost two seats in Newcastle at last week’s elections, both to the Newcastle Independents in the outer west of the city, and saw cabinet member for transport Arlene Ainsley lose her place in the council chamber.

However, the city’s ruling party clung onto swing seats in Ouseburn and North Jesmond and maintained a strong majority on the council – where it boasts 52 out of 78 seats.

Labour’s fortunes were far worse elsewhere in the region.

The party lost control of Durham County Council for the first time in almost 100 years, prompting leader Simon Henig to resign, and finished a distant second in the Hartlepool by-election.

Labour also lost nine seats in Sunderland and saw the Conservatives gain an overall majority in Northumberland.