Labour is celebrating sweeping victories across Rochdale tonight, winning in 17 of the 20 contested wards.
Only Bamford, Norden and Wardle & West Littlebrough now have Conservative seats, with huge failures for the Liberal Democrats and little support for minority parties.
The evening looked promising to begin with; there was excited chatter about the potential changing of seats, with councillors for all of the major parties claiming confidence. Then, disaster struck.
Press and councillors were herded away from the counting stations upstairs, as the building was pitched into darkness. Over an hour was spent waiting for an announcement, and even after the lights came back on, the certainty of the count taking place tonight seemed in doubt.
But once things got back into full swing, the excitement levels began to grow and grow. Labour’s initial cockiness seemed to be paying off, with several of the minority parties noting huge numbers of votes in their favour.
And the one thing on everyone’s mind was this year’s low turn-out. Even as the counts drew to a close and councillors were proud to boast of their success, they all noted that for the most part, the ballot boxes were a little too light.
Once the announcements began to be made, it was clear that Labour were winning seats in a landslide. The distance between Labour and Con/Dem votes was often very tight indeed, but one side of the room was certainly more excited than others.
Alan Brett, Labour, Milnrow & Newhey: “People think this is all flown on national issues, and don’t see any different in the parties. But it’s not, it’s about Rochdale.
We gave out our personal emails and phone calls, and tackled people’s problems personally when we could. And it seems to have worked.”
Ricky Akehurst, English Democrats, Kingsway: “People are fed up with Labour, Conservatives, and Lib Dems. They don’t help anybody here, and Rochdale is ruined.”
Ashley Dearnley, Conservative, Wardle & Littlebrough: “But the low turn out today is a real shame. People are upset with the Tory government and they’re upset with the Lib Dems and they’re upset with Labour too.
People feel like there’s nobody who can make a real difference anymore, but I hope to prove them wrong.”
Peter Joinson, Labour, South Middleton: “We’ve done better than last year, but it’s not good enough. I’m trying to bring local politics to people’s doorsteps, where it can make a difference.
“But nobody seems to want to open the door.”