Calderdale election results: Labour on course to retain overall control
With just over half the results declared in the morning session, Labour is on course to retain overall control of Calderdale Council.
Coun Tim Swift’s Labour group went into the elections with a majority of five over all other parties in the 51-seat chamber at Halifax Town Hall and defending eight seats.
The bottom line is it needs to retain six of the eight, or make the necessary compensatory gains, today to stay in the driving seat and by the end of the morning session which saw nine of the 17 counts take place it had five out of the six in place.
Two wards so far have perhaps reflected some of the national picture, with Labour gaining Skircoat from the Conservatives and the Conservatives edging out Labour in Illingworth and Mixenden.
It made a hat-trick of seats in Skircoat, a ward which had largely been Conservative, save for some Liberal Democrat representation between 2007 and 2014, from the council’s inception in 1974 until Coun Colin Hutchinson’s 2018 victory for Labour, Janet Kingstone now joining he and Coun Mike Barnes on Labour’s benches with a comfortable majority of 619.
The last result of the morning saw Labour defending Illingworth and Mixenden and if the party had done that it would be assured of overall control of the council – but it was Conservative
Guy Beech who took the seat by 93 votes from Labour candidate Stuart Cairney, meaning Labour hopes would have to be put on ice until the afternoon session.
But another key seat – Ovenden – was the first declared and Danielle Durrans held it for Labour with a majority of 168 over Conservative Andrew Tagg, and it was quickly followed by Diana Tremayne holding Todmorden ward for Labour comfortably.
The morning got brighter for the Conservatives with the party holding one of the two Brighouse seats and gaining the other, with Tina Benton and Brenda Monteith ready to take their seats at the town hall.
The new Coun Benton is the mum of former Tory group leader Scott Benton, who is now MP for Blackpool South and who resigned his Brighouse council seat before this election.
The other was taken at the expense of Colin Peel who left the Conservatives for Change Uk and was defending his seat as an independent.
There was also a strong independent challenge from former councillor Colin Stout, but the nearest gap between the lower placed Conservative and next nearest candidate was still 454 votes.
Two results went pretty much as expected, in Park ward, held for Labour very comfortably by Jenny Lynn, while Peter Caffrey retained his Northowram and Shelf seat for the Conservatives by a healthy margin.
The seat also produced the strongest Green Party showing of the day so far, Martin Hey taking 902 votes for second place.
The Liberal Democrats will be disappointed to lose the experienced Pat Allen who lost her Elland ward seat to veteran Conservative John Ford, with Labour’s Jim Gallagher pushing him hardest, the Tory majority being 62.
The other result of the morning saw Megan Swift returned in Town ward for Labour with a comfortable majority – and watching the declaration was her husband, Labour group leader Tim.