Labour retain control of council - but new kids on the block Middleton Independents make gains
Date published: 06 May 2022
Dylan Williams, Bernard Wynne and Paul Beswick of the Middleton Independents Party have been elected to East Middleton ward
The 2022 all-out election was certainly an interesting one this year: whilst Labour has retained control of Rochdale Borough Council, the real victory will be that felt by the newcomer Middleton Independents Party, which won several seats.
With their ‘Middleton before Rochdale’ message, voters have shown they are ready for a change in Middleton, with the Independents taking all three seats in East Middleton from Labour and two in North Middleton.
East Middleton was the first ward to see Middleton Independents Party candidates elected.
Paul Beswick, Dylan Williams and Peter Bernard Wynne polled 1,300, 1,257 and 1,245 votes respectively to take the ward in a clean sweep.
Dylan Williams - a first-time councillor - said that the reaction from the ward had been “really positive” adding: “We would have been really shocked if we hadn’t won the three seats.”
He said the ward had ‘lost out’ to Rochdale in recent years and that tensions in the council caused by party politics had impacted the area, adding: “I’m hoping we can work cross-party to get more money for Middleton.”
Labour candidates Elizabeth Atewologun, Terry Smith and Kathryn Bromfield polled 1,189, 1,166 and 1,193 votes respectively. Green candidate Connor Hibbert gained 269 votes.
The drawing of lots took place to decide who was elected in third place for North Middleton, following a tie between Middleton Independents Lee Wolf and Keeley O'Mara with 1,059 votes each. Peter Allonby from MIP polled 1,140 and Sara Rowbotham (Labour) polled 1,118.
A change to ward boundaries means that all 60 seats were being contested this year – rather than the usual one third.
Little changed in the Rochdale constituency wards: Labour retained its strongholds in Balderstone & Kirkholt; Healey; Smallbridge & Firgrove; Central and Kingsway and also Spotland & Falinge.
Overall, Labour lost six seats but gained four across the board. The majority party also gained several seats in Heywood, Milkstone & Deeplish and Balderstone & Kirkholt. In Hopwood Hall, Labour gained two seats from Conservatives Jacqui Beswick and Alan McCarthy who moved to this ward following the boundary changes, whilst also gaining the seat of former mayor and Labour councillor, Mohammed Zaman, this year standing for the Liberal Democrats. They also gained the seat of Kathleen Nickson, a former Labour councillor, now an independent.
The Conservatives retained their stronghold in Wardle, Shore & West Littleborough, with all three – Rina Paolucci, John Taylor and party leader Ashley Dearnley – being re-elected. All sitting Conservative councillors have also been re-elected in Bamford and Norden.
The Conservatives have also gained one seat in Littleborough Lakeside in the form of Peter Reed, but lost two in Jacqui Beswick and Alan McCarthy.
Local Conservative MP, Chris Clarkson, said: "What could have been a difficult night with the national picture hasn’t been and certainly not the route that Labour expected, we have been doing a fantastic job over the last few years and will continue to do so.
Labour also retained its three seats per ward in West Middleton; North Heywood; Castleton; South Middleton, including that of council leader Neil Emmott in West Middleton seat but he faces re-election next year, having polled the third highest number of votes in his ward during the council’s ‘all-out’ election of 60 seats across 20 wards.
Cllr Emmott described the 2022 results as 'a bit mixed' and said all-out elections are ‘often strange beasts’, adding: “I’ve been knocking on doors and campaigning for 42 years so another election isn’t something that’s daunting for me."
Peter Rush, re-elected for North Heywood, said: "[I am] Happy to represent Heywood, I’m always available via phone or email, putting Heywood first. Heywood councillors would like to thank everyone who had a hand in making this all possible: leaflet distributers, the canvass team, drivers on the day and especially the people of Heywood who had the confidence in us and went out to vote for."
The Liberal Democrats held their three seats in Milnrow & Newhey with Irene Davidson, Andy Kelly and Dave Bamford all re-elected. Former leader of the council, Allen Brett has lost his seat, after he stood in Milnrow & Newhey this year.
With three seats up for election in each ward, the winning candidate – the one with most votes – will take their seat for four years.
To avoid an all-out election again in another four years, the candidate with the second most votes in each ward will stay in place for two years.
The candidate with the third most votes will serve just one year and face another election next year.
This year's turnout was 34%.
The previous make-up of the council was:
- Labour – 44
- Conservative – 11
- Liberal Democrat – 4
- Independent – 1
The current make-up of the council is as follows:
- Labour – 42
- Conservative – 10
- Liberal Democrat – 3
- Middleton Independents - 5
The full list of results can be viewed at:
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