Liberal Democrats’ John Leech has been re-elected to Manchester City Council – and he’s no longer the only member of opposition to Labour.
The Didsbury West councillor picked up 2524 votes when his ward went to the polls on Thursday.
In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, fellow party member Richard Kilpatrick also managed to secure a seat in the same ward by drawing 1994 votes.
This means that Leech is no longer the only opposition to the 94 Labour members who make up the rest of the council.
Celebrating the news after it was announced at the count today, Leech said the double victory is ‘an enormous step forward’ for his party in Manchester.
“I am delighted to be re-elected but also welcome Richard alongside me – this is an enormous step forward for the Liberal Democrats in Manchester,” he said.
The 47-year-old added: “In 1998 when I was first elected, I promised not to give up on the residents of Manchester, and I’m never breaking that promise.
“It has been an honour to serve the people of Manchester for the last 20 years and I want to thank everyone who supported our ‘Manchester Together’ campaign – this is just the beginning.
“I will continue to fight for south Manchester as I always have done and I couldn’t be happier to welcome another hardworking Liberal Democrat alongside me.
“I know there are people here in Manchester who feel like this council has let them down on affordable housing, on homelessness, on our moral duty in the world, and for as long as Labour are letting them down, the Liberal Democrats will be here fighting for change.
“Labour poured over 120 activists, including the council leader, into our area in a bleak demonstration of their commitment to absolute control, and I couldn’t be happier and more grateful that local people placed their trust in us.”
Meanwhile, his newly-elected colleague Kilpatrick thanked voters for their support during the campaign.
He said: “I want to thank everyone who supported our ‘Manchester Together’ campaign this year. We set out a vision that we believed in and I am so grateful that local residents here put their trust in us.
“It’s a vision that ends the injustice of people sleeping on our streets, the abhorrent rejection of refugees and unfair tax increases for the least well off. It’s a vision that brings this city together and day one starts today.
“Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us, we will not let you down.”
The surprise double victory is the second big story to come out of the Local Elections 2018.
The first came when the Conservatives lost overall control of Trafford for the first time in 14 years.
*Image courtesy of John Leech via Twitter, with thanks.