After a gruelling campaign season, the Labour Party of Salford has left last night’s local authority election with a bitter-sweet victory, following the loss of the 3 Labour councillors.
While the incumbent party retained most of their seats, the wards of Worsley and Westwood Park, Ordsall and Quays lost their previous Labour councillors to the Conservatives (Worsley) and Liberal Democrats (Ordsall and Quays).
The major upset happened in Worsely and Westwood Park where Tony Davies was unseated by the Conservatives’ Adam Kealey. This comes as surprise as the conservatives have lost more than 300 seats nationally, with Labour gaining 47. However, the Worsley ward is very contested. Last year saw Kealey lose to Davies by less than 150 votes.
This year Davies’ 1,298 votes lost to Kealey’s 1,451 votes, giving the ward 3 Conservative councillors, with Kealey joining husband and wife, Karen Garrido and Robin Garrido.
When talking about the election, Kealey said: “I think I can bring a fresh perspective on some of the issues that have been blinded by the labour party.
The Labour party are very powerful in Salford, there’s no denying that, they control a considerable chunk of the council.
They will have been in for a long time and [Davies] will have only been able to see some of the stuff the labour parties been able to do. However, we’ve sat in opposition. Were able to pinpoint where things have been going wrong or need improving.”
After the results came in, Davies said: “We always knew it was going to be an uphill fight. Worsley and Westwood Park is an area of two halves. One half has never had a Labour councillor so it was a very pleasant surprise to get in last year.
We need to find out why the turn was ridiculously low across the city, we need to get out there and find out how we can represent them better.”
The Quays ward also lost a Labour councillor, this time to the Liberal Democrat candidate Alex Warren. Warren nearly doubled the votes from last year’s 531 votes to this year’s 976. The Labour Party candidate, Phil Tresadern, lost 103 of last year’s 639 votes, conceding the Lib Dems a clear victory.
Warren’s confidence relied on the knowledge his campaign knew what issues Quays residents were worried about. This included a late-night tram service, a #CleanTheQuays campaign to combat litter and nature reserves for the Quays wildlife.
Warren said: “If nothing happens and you don’t get challenged, you get what happened here. [Labour] are surprised that the Lib Dems are doing well in the heart of Salford but it’s because they’ve not really listened to people.
It does well in democracy to have opposition. We’re not going to be the kind of opposition that says no everything, we’ll work with our Labour colleagues but we’ll be there to scrutinise and say why have you not thought about that.”
The Liberal Democrats also did well in the Ordsall ward with their candidate Chris Twells beating the Labour incumbent John Walsh by 104 votes (848 votes total). Labour comfortably held that seat last year with 758 votes to Lib Dems 109. This is an impressive victory for Twells, who has not campaigned in the Ordsall ward before.
This pattern can also be seen nationally with Lib Dems, gaining 191 local seats, stealing far more seats from the Conservatives than the Labour Party. The Greens also did better than the labour party gaining 54 local authority seats.
While the governing party usually perform badly in local elections, it’s unusual for the main opposition party to do worse than minor parties such as the greens.
MP for Blackley and Broughton, Graham Stringer, gave his thoughts about the elections in Salford and the country more generally:
Besides these results, Labour had a successful night. All other sitting councillors were elected with a wide margin, including; Councillor Warmisham of Pendleton and Charlestown; John Merry of Broughton; Joe Mullen of Barton and Winton and Nathaniel Djangmah Tetteh of Eccles.
Labour also retained seats where previous councillors had retired, including Yolande Amana-Ghola of Cadishead and Lower Irlam and Teresa Pepper of Little Hulton.
Other notable results included Les Turner retaining Boothstown and Ellenbrook for the Conservatives, as well as Avrohom Walter retaining Kersal and Broughton Park as an independent.
The Labour Mayor, Paul Dennett had this to say of the election:
“So obviously we’re a little disappointed because we’ve lost three seats in the City of Salford… What we need to do is go back to the residents to understand what their issues and concerns are and make sure we speak to those next time around”