Labour is now the biggest group on Calderdale Council

Local Elections.
Local Elections.

FOR the first time in more than a decade, Labour has become the largest party on Calderdale Council after grabbing seven seats in the election.

They now have a total of 20 while the Conservatives lost four to stand at 17.

The Liberal Democrats went down one to 12 and two “Independents” were also unseated, leaving two remaining.

Labour councillors were meeting today to review their options but will have to wait until the Conservative and Lib-Dem groups gather on Tuesday to begin discussions about forming a coalition.

For the past two years, the Lib Dems and Labour have shared power and everything points towards that continuing.

Labour group leader Tim Swift, who is the currently deputy leader of the council, could take over as leader from Coun Janet Battye (Lib-Dem, Calder) at the annual meeting on May 23.

Voter apathy was evident throughout the poll with the overall turnout down from 41.7 per cent last year to just 33.1 this time.

In Ovenden ward not much more than one in five people bothered to vote (21.8 per cent) compared to 46 per cent in Park ward.

Councillor Swift (Town) described the result for Labour as wonderful and the best they could have hoped for.

“Now we need to reach an agreement to try to ensure some consistency for the council in its approach to the big issues.”

Whatever the outcome, the council still needs to save £45 million over four years!

Councillor Battye, held on to her seat in Calder ward in spite of stiff opposition from Labour’s Susan Press.

“We have operated successfully as a coalition for the past two years and we will need to see if there is still come common ground,” said Coun Battye.

She indicated that she would probably stand again as leader of her group.

The chairman of Calderdale District Labour Party, Mohammed Naeem, said voters clearly recognised that the Con-Lib coalition in parliament was not working and they thought it was time for change.

Conservative group leader Stephen Baines (Northowram and Shelf) said: “There will still have to be an agreement between two groups to run the council and my door is always open.”

He said the result for his party was to be expected given the very poor turnout.

“But the electorate has made it clear that they are not happy and I hope the Westminster Government will listen and take heed of that,” he said.