Labour takes seat from Conservatives in local elections

There was a gain for Labour in Halton’s local council elections this afternoon. There was low turnout however, with figures in one ward at just 13 per cent.

In echoes of what happened last year, Labour took a Conservative seat in Daresbury, Moore and Sandymoor. It had been held by 20-year veteran of the council John Bradshaw who announced he was retiring this year. His replacement candidate, Sandra Myndiuk-Davidson, was unable to fend off the challenge of Labour’s Neil Connolly.

Last year Labour took a seat from John Bradshaw’s wife Marjorie, in what was then essentially a Tory enclave in an otherwise Labour-dominated council. Now only one Conservative remains in that ward now, and on the council as a whole.

Cllr Mike Wharton, Labour group and Halton Council leader, won his own seat of Ditton, Hale Village and Halebank with 799 votes, to 159 for his Conservative challenger Philip Harper.

He said: “It’s been a good set of results. And to be honest, we’ve expected it because we’ve worked really hard and we continue to work hard. I’m really pleased that we’ve picked up another seat from the Conservatives.”

He said national politics had also helped boost the Labour group’s chances. He added: “I think we’re doing a lot of things right locally and people have seen that and voted for us. But of course there’s the national picture when we’ve seen a Government lurching from one disaster to another. So that has also helped us really.”

There had been early whispers that the leader of the council’s main opposition group, Lib Dem Margaret Ratcliffe, was facing a strong challenge in Beechwood and Heath, but she won with 806 votes to her closest challenger’s 625, Louise Whitley for Labour. Turnout in that ward was more than 30 per cent – which was in stark contrast to turnout in the rest of the borough, which on average was 21 per cent.

The lowest turnout was in Central and West Bank, with just 13.8 per cent of eligible voters casting their vote on the day.

Last year Cllr Wharton raised fears over the impact of the need for voters to show photo ID on the day, but said he felt it was not what drove the low turnout this time around.

He added: “People are despondent at what’s happening nationally. And basically they’ve just decided not to come out and vote. But it’s something we’re aware of and something we’ll have to work on going forward.”

The former makeup of the council was Labour 49, Lib Dem three, Conservative two. The new makeup is Labour 50, Lib Dem three, Conservative one.

A full list of results by ward can be found here.

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