Anyone would be forgiven for thinking Barnsley was a solid Labour stronghold, with its proud mining heritage. Also that Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council would have a huge Labour majority. Where as, in fact, today it has no majority at all! With a total of 63 councillors, Labour only has 31 and a by-election in the wings.
There is no doubt many reasons for this. Many traditional Labour supporters have seen ‘New’ Labour fail to live up to their expectations. The old habits are still around but not in those great numbers of the past. My father and grandfather always voted Labour. Voter apathy and that saying ‘we never see you from one election to the next’ have all taken there toll. Whilst canvassing the other week, one man vowed ‘he would vote for thee as you had the decency to come round’
Although the Conservative Group on BMBC is made up of six Councillors, our numbers have grown from just one in 2000, and one member returned a majority of more than the Leader of the Labour Groups total vote. Now the prospects for the local elections in 2010 look very interesting.
The small Conservative Group will likely hold the balance of power, a very powerful position to be in indeed. Following on from our success to date we are looking at working hard in other areas of the Borough, hoping to make further gains. Getting to know and being seen in your local community, and not just at election time, is a key factor.
Despite our small number, we have gained respect and one of our key strengths is we always stick together and work as a Group. As a group we challenge the big issues of service delivery and provision in our areas, and have had a number of successes. For example, listening to local opinion on care facilities, we maintained a care home for the elderly which was earmarked for closure. But it is often the smallest of issues which your constituents feel the strongest about. Taking care of these is often the key to success. Getting that broken green bin delivered to a local resident in two days, news of which is greatly received and a job well done.