Salford mayoral candidate Jake Overend remains hopeful that the May 6 elections will mark the start of a resurgence for the city’s Liberal Democrats.

For the first time since 2004, Salford will see elections across the board with local, Mayoral and Greater Manchester Mayoral candidates all hoping to win seats when Salfordians go to the polls on Thursday.

One of the candidates hoping his party will gain seats is the Liberal Democrat candidate running for Salford Mayor, Jake Overend (26), who feels that this could be the time for a large-scale political shift in Salford.

He said: “This is an all-out election now and we have seen strange things happen in all our elections and we have some really good candidates that are working really, really hard across the board.”

Mr Overend’s own passion for politics goes back to his teenage years, while studying a political journalism module at the University of Salford, an experience that he was “really glad” to have taken part in, but it was a more of a personal reason that led to him joining the Lib Dems after graduation.

“It’s very rare that you have a law or a piece of legislation that directly affects your life in some way” he said. “It very rarely happens that something in politics happens and it personally affects you.”

It was the Liberal Democrat’s same-sex marriage act that led him to the party and he says that without them pushing for this bill to be passed, he would not be marrying his partner, Andy, seven years later.

“That legally would not be allowed to happen if the Lib Dems hadn’t of got into Government in 2010,” he said.

Mr Overend hopes he can bring similar life-changing events to Salford if the Lib Dems win enough seats on May 6.

At just 26 years old, Jake Overend would be Salford’s youngest Mayor to take office (credit: Jake Overend)

With Salford City Council creating two new wards for this year’s local elections, Blackfriars and Trinity, and Quays, there are now more seats up for grabs than ever.

Since 1973 Salford has remained a Labour stronghold and a key part of its ‘red wall’ in the North, a fact that Jake believes is down to voters simply supporting the party because they have done so all their lives.

“A lot of people in Salford just feel like there’s no other option than Labour, but when you knock on their door and you give them the option to vote for something else… people get really enthusiastic about it,” he said.

The Liberal Democrats have not won on a large scale since 2008, when they were at the height of their power ,securing 10 seats.

But by 2012 the last Lib Dem seat, held by the late “Stormin” Norman Owen, a former party leader and Claremont representative, was taken and wiped the Lib Dems from Salford council entirely – and they haven’t returned since.

Despite the party’s mixed relationship with Salford voters in the past, Overend is confident that, although the chances of a Lib Dem Mayor remain unlikely “for the time being”, they as a party can win seats.

“We’re not saying Lib Dems are absolutely going to storm the election. For us this is about getting some councillors elected that can hold Labour to account more and better represent the local constituents in a way that current councillors aren’t.”

Mr Overend says the work put in to help secure votes through canvassing has been exponential and supporters have also been helping their community through getting involved with local groups and charities as well as helping look after local green spaces by litter-picking.

“Our canvassing has been absolutely amazing and our membership is strong,” he said.

“(We are) very optimistic, just pushing through to the election now!”

He is also impressed with the number of young people joining the party, as well as  standing for local election themselves.

He said: “I think being a Lib Dem tends to attract more young people anyway because we’re very active, we’re a very campaign-heavy party full of people wanting to get involved and young people want to see change happen quick!”

If elected Mayor, Overend’s main focus would be on developing more affordable housing for families that want to make Salford their permanent home.

This initiative, which is in line with the major polices listed as part of Salford’s Liberal Democrats manifesto, also hits close to home as Overend states that he too has been living in rented accommodation his entire adult life and it’s a situation a lot of people find themselves in.

“I’ve been renting in Salford for the past nine years, trying to save up to buy something and it’s just so hard to pay rent,” he said.

“That’s my top priority, to make sure families in Salford, people in Salford, can actually buy an affordable house.”

Overend  as Mayor would also propose a referendum on whether or not Salford should actually have an elected mayor in the first place.

He noted that the position pays more than the leader of the council itself when they are “essentially the same job”. Overend said his priority would be to find the alternative that would work best for Salford in the long run.

Voting in the local Salford elections and Greater Manchester mayoral elections is also on Thursday May 6 and you can find where your polling station here.

The full list of Salford City Mayor candidates is:

  • Stuart Antony Cremins – (Ind)
  • Paul Dennett – (Lab)
  • Wendy Kay Olsen – (Green)
  • Stephen Stuart Ord – (Ind)
  • Jake Overend – (Lib Dem)
  • Arnie Saunders – (Con)

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