Cllr Alex Williams is the Deputy Leader of Trafford Council.
Twelve years after taking control of the Council from Labour in 2004, Trafford today remains in Conservative control after the May local elections, which saw us retain all the wards we were defending.
As the only northern Metropolitan Council in Conservative control and with low majorities for several years, local elections in Trafford are hard-fought and regularly in the spotlight. This year was no exception with the national media highlighting our borough as one where Labour may make ground.
We started our 2016 election campaign in summer last year, focussing on target wards across the borough. Recognising that elections are won on the doorstep, we worked as a joint team of councillors and activists campaigning together most weekends in target wards. Over the past 12 months we knocked on tens of thousands of doors, delivered in excess of 300,000 pieces of literature (from leaflets to surveys and pledge letters) and in the final week before poll produced a ‘wrap around’ advert in the local paper, delivered to 65,000 households.
We kept our key campaign pledges simple:
- Maintaining the lowest Council Tax in the North West of England.
- Protecting our selective education system from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, including his education front bench spokesperson (Manchester MP Lucy Powell) who earlier this year condemned our world class school system as ‘abysmal’.
- First class service provision, particularly for the most vulnerable (our children’s services have been independently judged as the best in the country) including the groundbreaking integration of both children and adult health and social care.
- A pro-business Council that supports local employers, jobs, investment and wealth creation in the borough.
In the months leading up to polling day, Labour in Trafford retreated into a defensive strategy. They focussing on campaigning in wards where they were incumbents, including in a safe ward where the Labour candidate faced strong opposition from an independent.
Following their weak performance on 5th May, Labour’s position in the borough has now been further eroded by the subsequent defection of one of their Councillors, Cllr John Smith, to Trafford’s Conservative Group (the second Labour councillor to resign from the Labour Group in the last six months). Cllr Smith commented that Labour locally “were not representing the best interests of Trafford residents” and “have drifted away from democratic principles”.
Trafford remains the only Conservative-controlled Metropolitan Authority in the north of England and is the only area of blue in a sea of red across the rest of Greater Manchester. We now have a renewed mandate to push forward as leaders, driving the change needed to create an even stronger, more prosperous Trafford at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.