Oldham local election 2023: Labour Party retain majority but lose leader Amanda Chadderton

The Labour Party held its majority in Oldham but lost their leader for the third year running and saw their advantage slashed during a nerve-wracking count.

Oldham’s controlling party saw their seat total deplete from 35 to 32 and leader Amanda Chadderton, until today a councillor in Royton South, conceded her seat to an independent candidate.

Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats made marginal gains while the Failsworth Independent Party secured three seats and four other independent candidates won a place in the council chamber.

All 60 seats were up for grabs across the 20 wards in the first all-out election in Oldham since 2004 after the boundaries were revised.

Reacting to Labour losing their leader again, Deputy Leader Elaine Taylor said: “I’m devastated for Amanda personally – she’s a friend, she’s a colleague. Amanda has been a strong leader.

“Unfortunately, it was quite a personalised campaign against Amanda and we have seen that consistently against every leader and that is why we have lost three leaders on the bounce.

“I don’t think there is instability in the council but I think as a Labour group it’s something that doesn’t sit comfortably with us.

“Most of our policies span more than 12 months so in terms of that continuity I think it’s important that we have a leader who is a leader for more than a 12-month period. But the reality is that we will regroup. We’re still in control of the council.”

Elaine Taylor and Kamran Ghafoor give their views.

In the most dramatic swing of the day, Labour lost all three seats in Hollinwood, where three new Conservative councillors were elected.

One of these, Kamram Ghafoor, is returning as a councillor for the first time since 2003. He said: “I’m delighted to have won the trust of our voters. Nationally, obviously we know what’s going on, but I think what matters to people is what’s going on in their backyard.

“People are thinking about the issues on the streets, anti-social behaviour, they’re talking about potholes, all sorts of things that affect them. That’s what we’re going to be concentrating on – dealing with local issues, with local people.”

But Labour did make progress in other areas, stealing a lock-out in Chadderton South, where first-time councillor Holly Harrison claimed a seat from the Conservatives.

The former primary school teacher and business owner said: “I’m excited and nervous! I’m looking forward to getting started on Monday and knocking on residents’ doors and seeing what exactly they want from us.”

The Liberal Democrats were upbeat after increasing their standing by one seat and retaining their three-seat dominance in Crompton.

Louie Hamblett, a re-elected councillor for the party in Crompton, said: “I cannot thank our residents enough. It shows our resident-focused campaign has paid off.

“Labour are neglecting the outerlying areas – Shaw, Crompton, your Chaddertons, Roytons, and Saddleworths, places they’ve neglected while pooling lots of resources in the town centre.

“I’ve always said to a resident: if it’s your problem, I will make it my issue and do my best to try and solve that problem. We will be led by what residents tell us.”

Meanwhile, new Lib Dem councillor Helen Bishop claimed a seat from the Conservatives in Saddleworth South.

She said: “I’m slightly shocked and stunned but happy! It has been a lot of hard work. We’ve been out day and night.

“My priorities are to try and make a bit of a difference in the local education system, try and make some progress with regards to things like special needs, and also planning.

On the Liberal Democrats’ broader gains across the nation today, she said: “It’s high time. As a party, we’ve got an awful lot to offer people.

“We’ve got an alternative to the main two parties. We’re also focused on electoral reform, which is really important, and I think it’s something the public may now get behind.”

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