In a dismal night for the Tory Party, Adam Kealey was one of the few Conservatives around the country to unseat a sitting Labour councillor, reversing the losing trend of his party nationally.
The 24 year old Conservative, originally from Wales, said: “I wouldn’t be sure how others ran their campaigns. All I know is how I ran my campaign and that was purely on the local issues that were really important to people.”
He moved to Manchester 7 years ago and soon became involved in the local politics here in Salford. Last year he ran in Worsley and Westwood Park but narrowly lost to the Labour candidate Tony Davies. At the time, this was a big win for Labour as the ward traditionally held a Conservative majority.
This year, despite 336 Conservative councillors losing their seats in England alone, Kealey managed to beat the Labour incumbent, becoming the only conservative to gain a seat in Salford this election. However the margin between the candidates was small with only 153 votes separating them.
Cllr Kealey said of the close race: “I’m never complacent. I’m not a complacent person. I went out almost every night from last summer, so it was really, really hard fought.”
“We don’t rely on past voting statistics, we take every vote we can get and we don’t take it for granted. Whether it was 153 votes, 1 vote or 1 thousand votes we’d still be after everyones vote”
Listen to the full interview here:
When speaking about what he aims to achieve, Adam mentioned: “one of the top issues will be removing Hazelhurst farm from the Places for Everyone scheme. I think it’s wrong, I don’t think it will work. In general, protecting the Green Belt is a top priority.”
The Places for Everyone scheme is a planning development that aims to bring more housing and employment to Salford. While 85% of the development will happen near the city centre, the council admits 15% will be built on the Green Belt – including 400 new homes near Hazelhurst farm.
The Scheme will remove 16.7 hectares of existing Green Belt in Hazelhurst plan but aims to replace much of the developed Green Belt land before building commences. 3.3% (1,754 hectares) of Greater Manchester’s Green Belt will be removed to provide space for this scheme.
Kealey suggested a lot of the issues raised to him by Worsley residents were the extra traffic these homes would cause.
“Building on the Green Belt would have an impact on traffic and impact on the need for a Clean Air Zone… You’re never going to solve the issue of traffic but you can solve the congestion they face on daily basis.”
“If you build 400 houses on the Green Belt, you’re then looking at potentially 800 extra cars in the area. Hazelhurst Road just isn’t built for that type of capacity.”
When discussing the conservatives position as an opposition to dominant Labour Council, Kealey said: “When we were running our campaign we never promised anything we knew we couldn’t achieve. We didn’t want to say ‘if you vote for us this will all be stopped’. The next four years people can judge me and if they don’t think I’ve delivered they can always sack me.”
“We stood on this in the election. We won. And we’ll go to town hall next week with these demands. They’re going to have to listen.”