Our series, on the impact of the local elections on the political parties in different regions, rolls along. This week it is the turn of the north west.
No elections were held in Warrington.
These metropolitan boroughs had a third of their seats up for election:
These unitary authorities had all their seats up for election:
- Cheshire East
- Cheshire West and Chester
While for Blackburn with Darwen, and for Halton, there were a third of the seats contested this time.
Then for the district councils the following had all the seats up for election:
- South Ribble
For these districts a third of the seats were contested:
- South Lakeland
- West Lancashire
There was also a contest for a directly elected Mayor of Copeland.
The reasonably encouraging results in Wirral have already been recounted here by Cllr Ian Lewis.
Elsewhere, the news was less good. Cheshire East was pretty grim. The Conservatives lost 19 councillors, which resulted in this local authority falling to No Overall Control. This is the first time it hasn’t been Conservative since its creation in 2009. It is now a Labour-led council with the backing of independents.
The Conservatives lost control of Eden. It is now hung, but has a Lib Dem leader.
Craven slipped from Conservative control after the loss of three seats to independents. The Council is still Conservative-led.
Pendle was another loss. It now looks as though there will be a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition.
On the other hand, the Conservatives gained a couple of seats in Blackpool. Although it is still Labour-run, it is quite a bit tighter as Labour also lost four seats to independents. The Blackpool Independents don’t have a terribly clear ideological remit but they suggested they might persuade other councillors to defect to their ranks. The Conservatives also picked up a seat in Salford.
The results in Liverpool show how the Lib Dem recovery has been at the expense of the Conservatives far more than Labour. The Lib Dems used to run Liverpool City Council. In last month’s elections, they gained a couple of seats in the City. But it remains Labour dominated. The Lib Dems gained a seat in St Helens, a seat in Manchester, a seat in Blackburn, a seat in Bury… Even allowing for councils being elected in thirds it is pretty modest.
The Lib Dems saw their majority increase in South Lakeland. Stockport is an important council for them. They gained four seats to draw level with Labour although Labour will still lead the Council.
Trafford traditionally hogs the limelight when it comes to local elections in this region. For decades winning here was a measure of whether the main opposition party nationally was making the electoral progress needed. So Labour was fortunate to gain it from no overall control and thus win that high profile prize.
As noted above, Labour kept their grip on the big cities. But even in safe territory for the Party there were some warning signs. In Wigan while Labour still have a big majority, they lost three seats – a couple to independents and one to the Conservatives. Burnley also saw Labour lose seats to independents; this time it cost them control of the Council. The Burnley and Padiham Independent Party highlighted “the Brexit betrayal” along with the need to improve community safety and reduce dog mess.
Labour lost control of Lancaster with big gains to the Morecambe Bay Independents. However, Labour have managed to cling on after a deal with the Lib Dems and the Green Party.
Carlisle remains a hung Council. Labour lost control and the Council is now Conservative-led with backing from the independents.
Labour also lost control of Cheshire West and Chester – although so far they are continuing as a minority administration.
In past decades this was an area where Labour faced being challenged by the Lib Dems. This time they tended to be in more trouble from the independents. In the big cities, Labour maintained big majorities, but elsewhere there were some warning signs for them. Did they have a lucky escape because the Brexit Party was not properly up and running at the time?