Calderdale has its first Green Party councillor, following Martin Hey’s victory in the usually safe Conservative seat of Northowram and Shelf.
Councillor Hey said the party had put in a lot of hard work in the ward and he unseated senior Conservative Stephen Baines by just seven votes in the tightest result of the day.
Voters had made it clear what they wanted to see done, said Coun Hey.
“It’s a great achievement for the party as a whole and I am very grateful for all the work they have done.
“In terms of the voters of Northowram and Shelf, this is a message from them that they want to see action on the amount of traffic on the roads, on housebuilding in the ward and lack of investment and services.
“Those are the things I will be working for on their behalf on the council,” he said.
The Conservatives won the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe seat vacated by retiring Independent councillor Colin Raistrick with Joe Atkinson taking the ward, but were defeated by the Liberal Democrats in Greetland and Stainland, a seat targeted by the latter.
Last year two councillors were elected in the ward and Conservative Jacob Cook lost out 12 months on to Liberal Democrat Christine Prashad.
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker: “We are very pleased with the result, gaining a seat from the Conservatives.
“Across the country we have been taking seats in the wards we actively campaign in, where people respect our dedicated campaigners and councillors.”Coun Prashad said she was grateful to everyone who voted for her but being elected was just the start.
“The hard work starts now,” she said.
The Conservatives retained three other seats, returning group leader Steven Leigh in Ryburn; Howard Blagbrough in Brighouse and Regan Dickenson in Rastrick.
Against a backdrop of national issues, Calderdale’s Conservatives were not unhappy with the way things were going in the local elections.
But then the loss of senior Conservative and Deputy Group Leader Coun Stephen Baines in Northowram and Shelf was not foreseen and was a severe blow.
Group Leader Coun Steven Leigh, who held his Ryburn seat, said it was a loss which would be felt by his group and the borough.
Before that the party had won a seat, taking the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe ward vacated by retiring Independent councillor Colin Raistrick, and lost one, when Jacob Cook was defeated by the Liberal Democrats at Greetland and Stainland.
“It was a great result for the Conservatives, particularly in view of what’s been happening nationally,” said Coun Leigh.
Coun Leigh was “thrilled” Joe Atkinson won the Hipperholme seat but had to balance that with losing Jacob Cook, saying he had been a great councillor but faced a difficult task.
But long-serving Stephen Baines’ defeat by just seven votes was hard to bear and unexpected.
“We were all so upset and disappointed about losing one of Calderdale’s most excellent servants.
“He has served in every way over many, many years and is a great loss not just to Northowram but democracy in Calderdale.
“I do hope he will come back next year.
“That was a result quite out of the blue,” said Coun Leigh.
He said otherwise it had been a good result and Labour had failed to make gains.
“Against what’s been happening in the rest of the country we have held up well.
“It’s an indictment of the current, present, Labour-controlled council that they did not make more inroads when everything was going against us,” said Coun Leigh.
Mayor-elect of Calderdale, Angie Gallagher’s holding of her Elland seat for Labour was an early harbinger of a result which satisfied group leader Tim Swift and she will take the chain of office later this month .
Labour group leader Tim Swift was delighted his councillors held all 11 seats they were defending in this year’s Calderdale Council elections.
“It was an excellent result, it is what we were hoping for,” said Coun Swift (Lab, Town).
Improved results in other seats including Conservative group leader Steven Leigh’s Ryburn contributed to what he said was “a very good result from our point of view.”
“After last year the Conservatives were saying they were on a roll and taking things back but it looks like the wheels have come off that – in many ways they have been weakened,” said Coun Swift, referring also to the Green Party’s victory in Northowram and Shelf, where senior Conservative Stephen Baines was unseated, and the Liberal Democrats retaking Greetland and Stainland.
“We very much recognise the way politics has changed in Calderdale – we wouldn’t have thought five years ago that Skircoat would be a safe Labour seat whereas in our more traditional seats in Halifax we have had a hard fight but come out on top.
“We listened to what people were saying that concerned them and will make sure we address some of these in the coming year,” he said.
Coun Swift said on the doorstep it was a mix of local and national issues raised.
He believed some Conservative voters were staying at home because they were unhappy with Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and stories which had been coming out – but some voters were also switching to Labour because of these.