Calderdale elections: Local issues against backdrop of national politics to figure as voters go to the polls

Local issues against a backdrop of national politics are likely to be balanced  by voters when they go to the polls in Calderdale next week.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 29th April 2022, 12:00 pm

Overall political control has often been a luxury in Calderdale Council’s near 50-year history but Labour achieved this in 2019 and again held a five-seat majority over other parties in 2021.

Calderdale goes to the polls on Thursday, May 5, 2022, with the results being declared after the count on Friday, May 6.

Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) and his party, who have 28 seats, are defending 11 of them this time around, at a time when key local issues to the fore on which the parties have differing views have included hearings on the borough’s draft Local Plan, spending decisions in a tough financial climate, the impact of COVID-19 on the way some services have run and the effects of climate change.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

Election count in Calderdale

Areas of policy, with the Greens also contesting every seat, being debated by the parties recently include the Local Plan, waste collections, fly-tipping, climate issues, town development, development choices, infrastructure and the future of some public buildings, with Labour defending and promoting its record and opposition groups arguing how they would have done things differently to achieve results.

Voters also may have national political topics, including high profile issues around Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the cost of living, in their minds when casting their ballots.

The bottom line in 2022 is Labour needs to hold at least nine of the 11 seats it is defending, or make compensatory gains elsewhere, to retain overall control – 26 seats are needed for an overall majority, with 18 seats in 17 wards being contested this year.

The Conservatives, led by Coun Steven Leigh, who is defending his Ryburn ward seat this time out, have 16 seats and are defending five of them while the Liberal Democrats, led by Coun James Baker, hold five and are defending Warley ward this year.

Independent Coun Roger Taylor holds a Northowram and Shelf seat (not contested this year) while veteran Independent Colin Raistrick has stood down in Hipperholme and Lightcliffe this time.

Key battlegrounds are likely to include the north Halifax seats of Ovenden and Illingworth and Mixenden, and Elland, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, Skircoat and Greetland and Stainland.

Following success last year when Coun Guy Beech won Illingworth and Mixenden from Labour, the Conservatives are targeting the north Halifax wards.

Labour is defending two seats in Ovenden, with health issues leading Coun Bryan Smith to resign his seat meaning there are two vacancies, and one in Illingworth and Mixenden.

If those seats have often returned Labour councillors, Labour began taking formerly frequently Conservative seats in Skircoat ward in Halifax four years ago and Coun Colin Hutchinson, who won the first of those victories, is defending his seat for the first time.

Elland has seen Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat representation in recent years – Conservative John Ford won a Lib Dem held seat there for his party last year but this time out Labour’s Angie Gallagher, who is the borough’s Mayor-elect, is bidding to retain it.

Greetland and Stainland has often been a Liberal Democrat stronghold but when two seats were contested last year the second was narrowly won for the Conservatives by Coun Jacob Cook.

One year on – the extra seat was contested in 2021 because of the passing of Lib Dem councillor Marilyn Greenwood – it is sure to be a Liberal Democrat target which Coun Cook is fighting to hold.

The Conservatives are likely to be confident of taking the vacant Hipperholme and Lightcliffe seat, a ward where they already hold the other two seats.

Which issues have been foremost in voters’ minds will be revealed when the votes are counted, this year in a special giant marquee on the council’s Mulcture Hall Road site, close to Halifax town centre, with the situation expected to be clear by around 1.30pm on May 6.

Each of the 17 wards are being contested, with two seats in the mix in Ovenden ward.

Labour is defending Todmorden, Calder, Luddenden Foot, Illingworth and Mixenden, Ovenden (two seats), Sowerby Bridge, Park, Skircoat, Town and Elland.

The Conservatives are defending Ryburn, Greetland and Stainland, Northowram and Shelf, Brighouse and Rastrick.

Liberal Democrats are defending Warley.

Independent councillor Colin Raistrick has stepped down in Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, which is now a vacancy.

* Support your Halifax Courier by becoming a digital subscriber. You will see 70 per cent fewer ads on stories, meaning faster load times and an overall enhanced user experience. Click here to subscribe