100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Labour bids to run Stockport council for another year - despite having fewer councillors than Lib Dems
Councillor Elise Wilson, Labour and town hall leader since 2018, has confirmed she will again stand for the top job…
New leader of Greater Manchester council elected unopposed at Labour AGM following war of words
Both new and old leaders are hoping to move forward
Battle to run Stockport council heats up as Lib Dem chief declares leadership bid
"I believe the current time calls for a leadership that listens, truly puts Stockport first, that offers every group a…
Marvin Rees's all-Labour cabinet to blame for vote to scrap Bristol mayor, says George Ferguson
City's first directly elected mayor says successor's refusal to share power “fails to respect the make-up of the council”
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Trafford council leader announces bid to stand as Labour’s Stretford and Urmston MP
If selected, Coun Western would be fighting to hold the seat for Labour after stalwart Kate Green steps down at…
'We're ruling nothing out': party leaders on who will take control of Dumfries and Galloway Council
The Conservatives are openly inviting talks with opposition councillors about striking a power-sharing deal
Get all your news in one place
Latest National news:
Brave start for Her Productions with Uncle Vanya
IN a city already swimming in theatre companies and with limited audience numbers, the question might reasonably be asked: does…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Vera Zulumovski: an artist who keeps growing
Thirty years can be a long time in the career of an artist. It can also mark many changes in…
Australian election briefing: Morrison has a leaky cabinet while Albanese campaigns with Julia Gillard – plus the vibe is tired
Friday: The best of Guardian Australia’s 2022 federal election coverage
Safe federal seat of Fowler turned battleground: Kristina Keneally and the mystery polling
News Corp reports that polling shows independent Dai Le could win, but Keneally seems relaxed
Northstars skipper expects strong challenge from Ice Dogs
The two sides play a double-header this weekend.
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
Second fatal crash in Canberra in less than 24 hours
ACT Policing are attending the scene after a road death on Kingsford Smith Drive.
Master pianist at City Hall
"Australian audiences are my favourite because folks are so open to what you have to offer and they respond positively…

The town that turned its back on mainstream politics – and wiped Labour and the Conservatives off the electoral map

By Chris Gee

Among the most notable shifts throughout Greater Manchester in last week’s local elections was the almost total rejection of mainstream parties in the town of Radcliffe. In all-out elections for the three wards in the town, hyperlocal party Radcliffe First won eight of the nine seats they fought for.

That increased their presence in Bury town hall from three councillors to eight, just four behind the official Conservative opposition who have 12 seats. Labour, who have a strong overall majority on the council with 29 of the 51 members, lost all representation in Radcliffe, losing three seats to Radcliffe First, despite making gains elsewhere in the borough.

The Conservatives also suffered losses to Radcliffe First, with two Tory councillors defeated in Radcliffe North and Ainsworth including the group’s deputy leader, Paul Cropper.

READ MORE: Woman, 82, dead and passenger in critical condition following crash

Examining the reasons for this, the one message which keeps being repeated is a of a ‘town left behind’ after decades of losing vital services and a lack of inward investment and development. Radcliffe First councillor Mike Smith said the party’s overwhelming success was was ‘way beyond all [their] expectations’, but was a result of ‘the careless way both Labour and Conservatives have looked at Radcliffe’.

He said: “The feedback on the doorstep was positive in all areas, but to win eight out of nine was beyond all our expectations. "We expected to consolidate our position but not on the scale we saw.”

As for the reasons voters gave for abandoning the main parties, he said: “Radcliffe has lost its secondary schools, civic centre, leisure centre and came close to losing its library. “Its town hall was sold for a pound and the high street has been allowed to stagnate and deteriorate due to a chronic lack of investment.

“The investment that has been made includes lamppost banners, rusty planters and benches that are falling to pieces. “Token investment made without any ongoing maintenance plans are symptomatic of the careless way both groups have looked at Radcliffe.”

As for his party’s approach, he said: “People appreciated the time taken to speak to them. “Most are politically aware and knew this should be fought on local issues not the national issues Labour fought on.

“Roads, potholes, fly tipping and the regeneration of the town and new school were the issues. “The green belt was also key, many people used the area for exercise during lockdown and rekindled their love of the spaces.

“The idea of building all over it led to a sense of betrayal by the Labour led council over the plans for mass urbanisation.”

The party celebrated big wins (M.E.N.)

Coun Smith said the party’s priorities would be to ‘consult, consult, consult’. “Let’s make sure people have their say in plans for regeneration,” he added.

“Let’s use the amazing community groups we have, Little Britain Anglers, Radcliffe Litter Pickers, Growing Together, Rotary. “These groups have their ear to the ground and know what’s needed at a base level.

“Spend the money in the budget to repair the roads and potholes. “A secondary school that provides outstanding education to our young people and regeneration plan that works for the whole town.”

READ MORE: Green light for bus reform: What does it mean for passengers?

Voters who supported Radcliffe First at the ballot box last week echoed many of those views. Chris Mortimer, 53, from the Ainsworth Road area, is a once traditional Labour voter.

He said: “There’s a feeling from a lot of folk that Radcliffe gets next to nothing compared to other areas around here. I wanted a more local voice on the council and I’m glad they got voted in.

“If there was a general election I’d vote on national issues but i didn’t support Labour this time.”

Jenny Newell, 33, of Coronation Road, said: “People are fed of the same old parties who promise a lot and deliver nothing in Radcliffe.” Speaking shortly after the election results, Labour council leader Eamonn O’Brien, said: “”In Radcliffe, where we lost seats, I think many voters have obviously lost faith in the mainstream parties.

“We need to redouble our commitment to the town and accelerate the regeneration of the town.” He pointed to the successful levelling up fund bid of £20m the council was behind late last year which will be spent of regeneration of the town.

In a social media post the day after the elections Radcliffe Labour, said: “We know we have a long way to go, we know regardless of any election result we have a lot more work to do to get Labour supporters back. “The council is investing in this towns future, and it’s a Labour council delivering that investment.

“It’s a Labour council that is helping children eat decent meals at school, helping parents buy school uniforms for their children, delivering a brand new civic hub and helping to deliver positive change and belief back into this community. ”

New Conservative leader Coun Russell Bernstein conceded that his part had ‘failed to deliver our message’ in Radcliffe.

He said: “We believe that we should have challenged and scrutinised the impact of the Radcliffe protest vote far more effectively and much earlier. “It’s been too easy to allow Radcliffe First to be seen as a protest vote and thus somehow not as political as the mainstream parties.

“As such they have not been to date subject to the same challenges that are given to all our other political opponents.

We also failed to deliver our message about how much financial investment Radcliffe has received directly from this Conservative Government in respect of huge levelling up funding and the new school which will be opened in the town in 2024.

“As a consequence the town has lost an excellent councillor in Paul Cropper. “The Conservative fight back will now begin which will see us challenge Radcliffe First far more effectively on what they actually deliver for the people of Radcliffe.”

To get the latest email updates from the Manchester Evening News, click here.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
Labour bids to run Stockport council for another year - despite having fewer councillors than Lib Dems
Councillor Elise Wilson, Labour and town hall leader since 2018, has confirmed she will again stand for the top job…
New leader of Greater Manchester council elected unopposed at Labour AGM following war of words
Both new and old leaders are hoping to move forward
Battle to run Stockport council heats up as Lib Dem chief declares leadership bid
"I believe the current time calls for a leadership that listens, truly puts Stockport first, that offers every group a…
Marvin Rees's all-Labour cabinet to blame for vote to scrap Bristol mayor, says George Ferguson
City's first directly elected mayor says successor's refusal to share power “fails to respect the make-up of the council”
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Trafford council leader announces bid to stand as Labour’s Stretford and Urmston MP
If selected, Coun Western would be fighting to hold the seat for Labour after stalwart Kate Green steps down at…
'We're ruling nothing out': party leaders on who will take control of Dumfries and Galloway Council
The Conservatives are openly inviting talks with opposition councillors about striking a power-sharing deal
Get all your news in one place