COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2011: Davyhulme East – A microcosm of national issues

By Liam Barnes

The Tory-majority Trafford Council is tipped by many to turn towards Labour for the first time in nine years tonight.

In one of the narrowest wards, Davyhulme East could be one of the wards to see the Conservatives lose ground, but what does the local Labour candidate have to say about her party’s chances?

Helen Simpson, who works as a secretary for Manchester City Council, was unsuccessful last year, losing to Conservative Mike Cornes by 263 votes, despite the area having a Labour MP in Kate Green.

However, Ms Simpson gives herself an ‘80%’ chance of winning this time, feeling that the 13.7% swing to Labour last year, added to anger shown by protests nationwide over Coalition cuts, will see her through.

“The majority of people have been really positive,” she said, “I’m quite optimistic – people have been coming to the door wishing me luck.”

She added: “I think we will be pinching a few seats this year – we probably won’t take [overall] control this year but if we can earn more seats now it will be ammunition for next year.”

The Coalition has been a massive issue during campaigning, said Ms Simpson, and she senses an opportunity to capitalise on the struggles of Nick Clegg’s junior partners.

“The Lib Dems will get wiped out and we are hoping to make gains. We have to get Lib Dem seats,” she said on the chances of both candidates defending seats this year.

“If Labour win it will be seen as people saying ‘We’ve had enough of these cuts!’” she added.

Ms Simpson says that Davyhulme East embodies much of the issues people will face before they vote in the local elections, with cutting costs and job creation dominating the agenda.

The ward includes Trafford General Hospital and the proposed site for the Barton Renewable Energy 20 Mega-Watt biomass-fuelled plant by the Manchester Ship Canal, matters arousing local anger.

“I’m a very local person. The incinerator is a massive issue, there has been protesting,” said Ms Simpson, “The air pollution in the area is shocking without the incinerator.”

“They [Peel Holdings, the company behind the plant] say it’s not a residential area but the nearest house is a few hundred yards away!” she added.

Between the hospital, the energy plant, Conservative cuts, Lib Dem wavering and the Labour legacy of Gordon Brown all live issues, much of the topics alive in Davyhulme will be key factors across the country.

What promises to be a tightly-contested election night – in Davyhulme East, Trafford and across Greater Manchester – will be played out through the night here on Mancunian Matters.

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