THE ruling Labour group lost three of its seats on Bury Council at the local elections, as councillors blamed the "grotesque offence" caused by anti-Semitic rows dominating the national party for defeats in Jewish communities.

While Labour still retains a large majority - with double the number of seats held by the Conservatives - there was disappointment as cabinet members Paddy Heneghan and Andrea Simpson lost their Holyrood and Sedgley seats, to the Liberal Democrats and the Tories respectively.

Labour did manage to cling on to the third Prestwich seat being contested, with Jane Black winning in St Mary's by the narrow margin of just 19 votes.

In a dramatic close to the night, Labour also lost Ramsbottom to the Conservatives, with Ian Schofield beating Karen Leach by 37 votes after two recounts.

Conservative Oliver Kersh became one of the council's youngest members, aged 22, as he picked up the Pilkington Park seat vacated by independent Michelle Wiseman.

The Green Party lost their only seat on the council, in Radcliffe East, which returned to Labour. The Greens had claimed that seat after ex-Labour councillor Daisy Bailey defected last year.

At the end of the Castle Leisure Centre count, council leader Cllr Mike Connolly said: "It has been a night of mixed fortunes. We are devastated to have lost Andrea Simpson and Paddy Heneghan, who have both been excellent councillors.

"But we have managed to hold Elton and pushed the Tories close in Ramsbottom, so it has been a good night.

"To have only lost a few seats from such as high position is doing remarkably well.

"We have held onto seats in Bury North and Radcliffe, but the anti-Semitism issue has clearly had an impact in Prestwich.

"I think it was a dirty campaign from the Tories, particularly in Sedgley, but we have obviously suffered with the Jewish vote there."

Sedgley Cllr Alan Quinn said: "As far as I'm concerned, we have lost two absolutely brilliant councillors in Prestwich and that is solely down to the grotesque offence caused to the Jewish community by Ken Livingstone's comments.

"It has caused tremendous hurt and his suspension from the party must be turned into an expulsion."

The night began with a series of good holds for Labour, with significant majorities for incumbents Elizabeth Fitzgerald in Besses, Shaheena Haroon in Redvales, David Jones in Unsworth, and last year's mayor Stella Smith in East ward.

New faces include Annette McKay, who polled 1,375 votes to retain the Moorside seat held by Dot Cassidy since 1998, and Rhyse Cathcart, a convincing winner in Radcliffe East.

With Sharon Briggs retaining her Radcliffe North seat and Tony Cummings returning to the council, taking up the retired Tony Isherwood's seat in Radcliffe West, Labour now holds all nine seats in the town.

Roy Walker, Conservative councillor in Church ward since 1982, will have another four years in office after picking up more than 2,000 votes, while Dorothy Gunther polled the most votes of anyone on the night - 2,281 - to hold her North Manor seat.

With Greg Keeley comfortably holding Tottington, the Conservatives now control every seat in the Ramsbottom, Tottington, and North Manor area.

They did fail, however, to wrestle control of Elton away from Labour, with incumbent Susan Southworth beating Dene Vernon by 106 votes.

Bury Conservatives leader Iain Gartside said: "I think it has been a typical local election, whereby the party that is in government is up against it.

"Our vote in Bury North has held up well, but we still have a lot of work to do in other areas.

"I think what we found is that people were very much focused on the EU referendum and that dominated the conversation ahead of the local issues we wanted to push, such as restoring two-weekly bin collections."

Tim Pickstone, the Liberal Democrat group leader, said his party was moving in the right direction, as they gained a third seat on the council - all of which are in the Holyrood ward.

He said: "We continue to move forward. We are disappointed that Michael Powell did not win in St Mary's, but with Steve Wright winning in Holyrood we will continue to fight for the fair deal that Prestwich deserves."

The makeup of the council's 51 seats is now: Labour 32, Conservative 16, Liberal Democrat 3.