Labour Stronghold Loss In Radcliffe

Friday, August 30th, 2019 8:21am

By Joseph Timan - Local Democracy Reporter

Radcliffe First member Carol Birchmore (left), group leader Cllr James Mason, newly-elected Radcliffe West councillor Mike Smith with his wife Gill and policy officer Mark Firth following the by-election

Senior Labour figures have said they will not take any votes for granted after suffering a historic loss in a traditional safe seat.

Hyper-local party Radcliffe First beat the ruling group at a by-election for the former council leader’s seat in Radcliffe West last night, the first time Labour has ever lost in the ward.

This comes less than four months after the ruling group lost two seats in other parts of Radcliffe at the local elections, when it narrowly held onto a seat in Radcliffe West.

Reflecting on the result, high-profile Labour councillor Tamoor Tariq said there are no more safe seats in the borough.

He said: “I think the period in local government has long gone where we took certain communities for granted, perhaps. We need to be talking to residents constantly, resonating with their views.

“I think it’s safe to say that there are no safe seats and there are no communities we take for granted as a political party and ruling group. There is this feeling of being left behind. That’s something we’ve got to address.”

Former Radcliffe North councillor Jamie Walker, who lost his seat in May, missed out on a chance to return to the council chambers, losing to Radcliffe First candidate Mike Smith by 116.

He said that people in Radcliffe still “respect” the Labour Party and agree with the ruling group’s plans for the area.

He said: “No matter what, we’re still going to work with Andy Burnham on the next stage of the regeneration project and the council’s going to submit a bid for a new school.

“People in Radcliffe feel like they want more control over where things are spent. That’s what we campaigned on.”

The unsuccessful Labour candidate said the newly-formed independent party are winning by picking up Conservative votes.

Tory candidate Jordan Lewis received 283 votes in the by-election, taking 14 per cent of the share on the night.

This is only one percentage point lower than the May election, but a significant drop compared to the 2018 result when the Conservatives took a quarter of the votes in Radcliffe West.

He said: “I think it’s a very telling result. Obviously Bury have to get their finger out. They have to stop neglecting Radcliffe, they have to start putting money into the local area.

“Congratulations to Mike – he fully deserves it. I can’t blame Radcliffe for voting for Radcliffe First at the end of the day. Something needs to happen in Radcliffe and, unfortunately, this is something that Bury Council have brought on themselves.”

The Lib Dems took 113 votes, 5.7 per cent of the share, boosting its total in May in the absence of the Green Party.

Candidate Kingsley Jones said he believes his party is the best for local people but wished newly-elected councillor Mike Smith well.

He said: “I’d like to wish Radcliffe First the best in how much they can support local people and supporting Radcliffe in a way that Labour hasn’t done in the past.”

UKIP candidate Anthony Clough, who did not attend the by-election count, won 50 votes.

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