Lib-Dems oust Labour leader

TWENTY-four years as a councillor came to a dramatic close when Labour group leader Bob Metcalfe lost his seat in Mixenden.

The chairman of Pennine Housing has represented the ward since 1979. He polled 682 votes.

But he was beaten into third place, by the victor, Liberal Democrat Stephen Pearson on 986 and British National Party candidate Jane Shooter, of Old Lee Bank, Lee Mount, Halifax, who was the runner up with 700 votes.

It was a night of high tension for the trio and a particularly disappointing result for Tory John Wainwright, who polled only 136 votes.

Mr Metcalfe, of Roils Head Road, Highroad Well, Halifax, was contesting his seventh election in Mixenden.

"To say I am disappointed is an understatement.

"This year has been very difficult for the people of Mixenden - the national media coverage following the recent by-election did a lot of damage as a lot of it was wrong. But I could not have worked any harder for people in this ward and to come in third after the BNP rubbed salt into the wound," he said.

Councillor Metcalfe said all the mainstream political parties in Calderdale needed to learn from the results in Mixenden and elsewhere.

He is now expected to lose his seat on the board of Pennine Housing which he said was one of the things he would miss most.

For Stephen Pearson, of Sowood, the victory was compensation for having been the runner-up in January's by-election, which he lost by 28 votes.

He said he was pleased that so many people wanted to defeat the BNP and had chosen to vote Liberal Democrat.

"It shows that the BNP can be beaten with a vigorous, community-based political campaign that confronts them head-on.

"I am delighted with the result, it vindicates all the hard work we have put in and shows that we can head off the BNP's hopes of consolidating.

"It also shows the people of Mixenden that their protest votes in January have been heeded."


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