Elections 2019: Labour consolidate Trafford majority in bad night for Conservatives

Labour consolidated their take-over of Trafford Council tonight winning six seats from the Conservatives and controlling the 21 wards for the first time since 2004. 

In a night of heavy blows to the Conservatives, they lost a further three seats: two to the Liberal Democrats and one to the Green Party.

The council is now composed of 36 Labour, 20 Conservative, four Lib Dem and three Green seats. Labour won a clear majority tonight and no longer need to rely on a confidence and supply arrangement with the Lib Dems as they did after the 2018 local elections.   

Amongst the seats lost to Labour is one in Ashton upon Mersey: a ward that’s not had a single Labour councillor since its creation in 2004. Labour followed this up by taking seats in Broadheath, Brooklands, Davyhulme East and West, and Flixton from the Conservatives.

Labour Leader and Priory Cllr Andrew Western stated: “We had six target seats and fortunately we’ve been able to win all six. It’s a spectacular set of results for us.”

“This is an endorsement of the work that we’ve done locally and of Labour’s alternative nationally as an anti-austerity party.”

Labour Cllr Shirley Blair Proctor, who won in Flixton by over 1,000 votes, expanded stating that the Conservatives’ local, rather than national, plans proved costly. Voters showed concern with plans to build thousands of homes on Trafford’s Green Belt and to sell off local landmarks. 

“Brexit was not a big issue. Voters want to fight to save the Green Belt and stop the selling of the George H Carnall Sports Centre,” said Cllr Proctor.    

The Lib Dems and the Greens also made important gains in what was an entrenched Conservative council of 15 years until last year’s local elections.

The Greens completed a take-over of Altrincham ward which is now comprised of three Green councillors.  

An ecstatic Cllr Michael John Welton, the new representative for Altrincham, explained that policies such as the Green Bin Tax contributed to these Conservative losses. The tax meant that any use of your green bin for compost resulted in an increase to your council tax.

But the Lib Dem winners offered yet another explanation for their victories in the wards of Timperley and Village: voters wanted to diversify on a local level due to distrust of the two main parties and responded well to a shared control council.

Lib Dem candidate for Hale Central Will Frass stated: “Voters have seen the compromises we’ve got the council to make and that we gave the council balance.”

Fascinatingly, in 58% Remain voting Trafford, Brexit was only offered up as a tangential reason for the gains by left-wing councillors or losses by Conservative councillors. For the latter, the issue lies at the feet of the current, capricious Cabinet’s inability to operate as a unit. 

Conservative candidate Michelle Ann McGrath, who lost in Brooklands to Labour’s Rose Thompson, stated: “Conservative voters are completely upset with the leadership. I would do a better job. You would do a better job.”

This voter dissatisfaction could go some-way towards explaining the abysmal voter turnout of 39.5%: the lowest in Trafford since 2012.

The results in Trafford will no doubt be a cause for concern in what’s been an extremely concerning night for the Conservatives nationwide. 

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