Calderdale Council elections: Labour one short of a majority

There were gains for Labour and the Conservatives in last week’s Calderdale Council elections, with the Liberal Democrats being hit hardest, losing two seats.

Labour captured Todmorden ward, vacated by retiring Liberal Democrat Ruth Goldthorpe, their new candidate, Todmorden town councillor Margareta Holmstedt, losing out to Susan Press and just pipping third placed Conservative Mark Gledhill. Green Oxana Poberejnaia was fourth.

In Luddenden Foot ward Hebden Royd town councillor Tony Hodgins was defending the seat for the Liberal Democrats, but it turned out to be a fight between Labour and the Conservatives this time around, Conservative Jill Smith-Moorhouse defeating Labour’s Charlotte Brady by just 17 votes.

It was a result that - just - kept Calderdale as a “hung” council, with no party in overall control.

The Liberal Democrats were pushed into fourth place, with Elizabeth King (Green) finishing third in the poll.

Labour also held the seat which had been vacated by Coun Nader Fekri, who resigned to spend a spell living and working in Turkey, where his family are already based.

Their new councillor is Allison Miles, with a majority of 189 in a five-way fight, her closest rival being Green Kate Sweeny. Liberal Democrat Mike Smith was third, 33 votes ahead of Conservative Nicola May and Independent Stephen Curry another 130 votes back.

In Calderdale as a whole, the Labour group made significant gains in the local elections, but were one seat short of achieving an overall majority.

The Conservatives gained two seats and the Liberal Democrats lost five seats .

The Labour group now hold 25 out of a total 51 seats on the council, the Conservatives 19, the Liberal Democrats six, and one Independent.

Labour leader of Calderdale Council Tim Swift said: “Getting an overall majority was a big ask because we had to win a lot of very marginal seats and not lose anything.

“We lost out on one seat by 17 votes, which would have given us the overall majority, but I still think it was a great result.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group Janet Battye (Calder) said the results were incredibly disappointing.

She said: “What I’m particularly sad about is that we’ve lost some very good, hard-working councillors which I think will be a real loss to the council. One of the things that comes out of being in a coalition government is you reappraise what your values and opinions are, and for many of us it has confirmed what our beliefs are.”

The Conservative group on Calderdale Council managed to gain two extra council seats, bringing their total of representatives on Calderdale Council from 17 to 19.

Leader of the Conservative group Stephen Baines said: “We certainly bucked the trend in the country for Conservatives to gain seats.

“UKIP certainly took votes from all the main parties - it was a protest vote, but my concern is that if Conservative voters do a similar protest vote then we’ll end up with a Labour government and do they really want that?”