Labour has taken full control of Cheshire West and Chester Council in a local election which saw a number of highly experienced councillors lose their seats.
The Labour group had run a minority administration since the last election in 2019, but a successful set of results this evening saw it take full control of the council, increasing its numbers from 33 to 39.
The Conservatives, the borough’s largest opposition group, lost five councillors, including highly experienced figures such as Lynn Riley in Frodsham, and Jill Houlbrook in Upton with their numbers falling from 28 to 23, But they also gained two seats, including that of Liberal Democrat leader Paul Roberts.
Elsewhere, the Greens doubled their number of councillors from one to two, while Winsford’s independent group – Winsford Salt of the Earth – picked up three councillors, only hours after also taking control of Winsford Town Council.
There were emotional scenes on the counting floor as some results were read out, with Labour leader Louise Gittins putting her arm around her Conservative counterpart Margaret Parker at one stage. Several candidates were in agreement that this had been a particularly tiring election campaign, with allegations of bad blood in some wards.
Thanking counting staff in the hall, Louise Gittins told those gathered at the end that it had been a “really difficult 24 hours, and a really difficult four years.”
She said, “I’m really proud of what we achieved as a no overall control council with a Labour administration, and I’m really excited about the future and our vision which we’re going to be taking out and delivering for our communities.”
While the Conservatives had suffered a string of high-profile defeats nationally, Margaret Parker felt the Cheshire West and Chester Group had performed better than others and vowed to “carry on fighting.”
She said, “Obviously we’ve lost seats today but we’ve also gained two seats. “We have removed the leader of the Liberal Party, and we’ve also taken an independent seat.
“I’ve lost some good stalwart counsellors, and they worked so hard and they will be very much missed, but we’ve gained new counsellors and they will be welcomed into the group, but we’ll carry on fighting. I don’t believe it has been a disaster for us. I think we’ve worked very very hard.”
The new make-up of the council is:
Independent: Five – including three for Salt of the Earth
Lib Dem: One
Image: Labour celebrated success in the Cheshire West and Chester elections. Credit: Mark Smith