Ray Mallon, the so–called "robocop" of the north–east, was this afternoon elected mayor of Middlesborough.
Mr Mallon, the former Cleveland Police chief superintendent, is credited with bringing US–style, zero–tolerance policing to Britain. His election followed a day of mixed fortune, and some farce, for Labour's constitutional innovation.
The biggest humiliation came in Hartlepool, where Stuart Drummond, also known as H'Angus the Monkey, stormed to victory in the race for Mayor.
H'Angus, the mascot for Hartlepool United Football Club, left the Labour candidate trailing in second place to take the £53,000–a–year post. A key part of his manifesto was to provide free bananas for schoolchildren.
In North Tyneside, a traditional Labour stronghold where local MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions Stephen Byers, cut his political teeth in local government, Conservative Chris Morgan beat off Labour's Eddie Darke to take the Mayor's office by 26,083 votes to 24,531.
Even where Labour candidates were successful, the going was harder than had been expected.
In Doncaster, where Martin Winter took the office, and Lewisham, where Steve Bullock was successful, both candidates required two rounds of voting to confirm their wins, when analysts suggested they should have shown their rivals a clean pair of heels in the first round.
And though Liberal Democrat Dorothy Thornhill always had hopes of taking Watford, she could hardly have expected the scale of her second round victory over Labour's Vince Muspratt – by 13,473 votes to 5,269.
Labour's only first round victory came in Newham, but in this traditional east end party stronghold council leader Sir Robin Wales only just passed the 50 per cent winning post.
His election will cheer Labour chiefs who will regard the result as an endorsement of what they regard as a model local authority. Newham was voted Council of the Year in 2000.
Sir Robin polled 20,384 votes, with Tawfique Choudhury, an independent, second with 5,907 and the Tory candidate Graham Postles on 4,635 – 11.55 per cent.
London's Ken Livingstone became Britain's first elected mayor when he won as an independent in 2000.Reuse content