Chorley's Labour group cements its position in power with FIVE seats gained in the May 2 local elections
Chorley’s Labour group has cemented its control of the council after gaining five seats in the May 2 local elections.
They went in to the evening defending eight seats and holding 32 of the overall 47 at Chorley Council.
The Conservative group – the council’s official opposition – had just two councillors elected.
The Tories went in to the night holding seven of the 15 seats up for grabs, with Labour holding the other eight.
Labour Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said it had been a brilliant night for the party.
Coun Bradley said: “The public are punishing the Government for the mess over Brexit. And in Chorley the council is seen to be working for the public.
“In times of national turmoil the public have recognised the hard work we’re doing locally.
"We are pleased that people respect what we’re doing.”
Coun Bradley did take a moment to show some concern for the depleted Tory numbers, saying that “we need a strong opposition”.
Chorley’s Conservative group said goodbye to its current leader, Alan Cullens, who didn’t defend his seat in the Clayton-le-Woods West and Cuerden ward.
The seat was gained by Labour’s Peter Gabbott with 650 votes.
There was rapturous applause when Labour’s Laura Lennox won in Astley and Buckshaw, previously held by the Tories under outgoing councillor Mark Perks.
Taking to the stage, Coun Lennox thanked the people of Astley and Buckshaw.
She said: “They managed to come out and vote despite all the Brexit horrors. They recognise local politics is about what really matters.”
The gains continued for Labour in Lostock, with Paul Sloan beating veteran Tory councillor Doreen Dickinson, ending her 19 years in office, by 648 to 633 votes.
Chorley’s Labour MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “It’s better than anyone could have predicted.
"You are never sure until the voters are in but Labour has done extremely well.
"The electorate has come out tonight to give a landslide result for Labour."
Sir Lindsay added that the result "shows that people will put their trust" in a "good council".
Deputy Conservative group leader Martin Boardman held his seat in Eccleston and Mawdesley with 1066 votes to his name.
When taking to the microphone, he said: “We will be back next year – and fighting.”
Fellow Tory councillor Debra Platt also held on in Euxton South, beating Terry Howarth by 620 votes to 554.
Chorley mayoral plans were thrown up in the air after Tory Gregory Morgan lost his seat in the Clayton-le-Woods & Whittle-le-Woods ward to Labour’s Mark Clifford.
Coun Morgan, the current Deputy Mayor of Chorley Council, was set to take up the mayoralty later this month as the next longest serving councillor.
It now means that Labour’s Hasina Khan, who was not up for re-election, will hold the prestigious position for 2019/20, taking over from Labour Coun Margaret Lees who successfully defended her seat in Chorley South West.
Tributes were paid to Conservative councillor for Eccleston and Mawdesley, Henry Caunce, who died on Wednesday.
Taking to the stage Labour Coun Paul Walmsley said “we’ve lost a very good councillor” and a “lovely fella”.
It was greeted by a large round of applause from everyone present in what was a poignant moment paying homage to the longstanding councillor of 15 years.
Coun Caunce served on the Development Control Committee, Neighbourhood Area Meeting – Western Parishes, Council, and Charitable Trust Meeting.
Turnout was low, with an average of 34 per cent of voters heading to the polls across the 15 wards.
The political reality meant that there was going to be no power shift as a result of the evening – if Labour had zero gains and lost all eight seats it was defending, the party would still have stayed in control of the authority with 24 councillors and a majority of one.
The evening marked the final round of local elections in Chorley ahead of next year's boundary review.
The review, if ratified by the UK Parliament, will reduce the number of councillors to 42, splitting them equally in to 14 wards, each with three councillors.