'Astonishing result' as Labour takes overall control of Calderdale Council

Labour MP Holly Lynch, with councillors, at Calderdale Council election count 2019, NBLC, Halifax
Labour MP Holly Lynch, with councillors, at Calderdale Council election count 2019, NBLC, Halifax

Labour has swept to power in Calderdale, winning overall control of the authority for the first time in 20 years.

Bucking any national “a plague on both your houses” trend which has affected Conservatives and Labour in some parts of the country, the party held all six seats it was defending and gained all four of its targets.

READ MORE: Calderdale Council local election results as it happened as Labour gain overall control
With a third of the 51 seats up for election this year, the results leave Labour on 28 (up four), the Conservatives on 14 (down six), the Liberal Democrats on seven (up one) and Independents on two (up one), giving Labour an overall majority of five.

It was a bad day for the Conservatives who were defending the lion’s share of the seats, ten, won in 2015 when the party won the General Election.

The Liberal Democrats were happy to win their target seat of Greetland and Stainland while group leader James Baker was comfortably returned in Warley.

The first result of the day proved to be a weather vane when veteran Conservative John Ford lost his Elland seat to Labour’s Victoria Porritt, signalling which way the wind was blowing.

In the other three Conservative seats Labour group leader Tim Swift said his party had targeted, Roisin Cavanagh won Luddenden Foot from Nicola May, Audrey Smith won Sowerby Bridge from Mike Payne and the party won a previously safe Skircoat seat, vacated by Mayor of Calderdale Marcus Thompson, who was not standing, for the second year running, Mike Barnes edging out Jeff Featherstone.

Having lost Greetland and Stainland to the Liberal Democrats when Sue Holdsworth defeated Jacob Cook, who was defending the seat vacated by Chris Pearson for the Conservatives, it capped a miserable day for the party when Independent Rob Holden, ousted by the Conservatives in Ryburn last year, stood again this time around and defeated Tory Robert Thornber.

They could take some comfort when Conservative leader Scott Benton held his Brighouse seat, Chris Pillai was returned in Rastrick, David Kirton was comfortable in Hipperholme and Lightcliffe and Roger Taylor easily won in Northowram and Shelf.

Labour’s defences were comfortable including Coun Swift in Town, Faisal Shoukat in Park, Dave Young in Calder, Bryan Smith in Ovenden, Silvia Dacre taking over the Todmorden seat vacated by Carol Machell and Stephanie Clarke the Illingworth and Mixenden seat left by retiring veteran Labour councillor Barry Collins.

A victorious Coun Swift said the result was “absolutely the best we have been hoping for.”

“We were potentially targeting four gains, needing two for an overall majority.

“To win all four and defend all our other seats successfully is an astonishing result,” he said.