Labour keeps a grip on Preston Council in local election

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Labour might have faced crushing results nationally but in Preston the party has kept control of the council.

The Labour group in the city went into the election with 32 seats on the council and retained all of them.

Photo Neil Cross'Preston City Council Elections at the Guild Hall'John Swindells wins for Labour in the University ward

Photo Neil Cross'Preston City Council Elections at the Guild Hall'John Swindells wins for Labour in the University ward

There were no surprises at the count at the Guild Hall.

The count got underway at around 1pm yesterday with the first results being announced at around 2pm.

The Guild Hall was packed with candidates and agents and there were cheers as the results were declared.

The count stopped for a short break ahead of 3pm to allow folk to go to the war memorial on the Flag Market for a two-minute silence for VE Day.

The atmosphere at the count was fairly reserved - with many being here the night before for the General Election Count.

The city’s newly elected MP Mark Hendrick was also in attendance.

Council leader Peter Rankin said: “In Preston we have done remarkably well. We have increased the parliamentary majority by 50 per cent.

“I am not triumphant, we have done worse than expected throughout the country, that’s going to be very very serious for the city council and the people of Preston. The Tory party in the election campaigned promised £10-12bn cuts. I fear there is going to be very serious cuts to local government.

“It is bitter sweet. I am very pleased for our councillors and workers who work tremendously hard day in and day out. We are always there for our constituents. I think that is why we have done so well.”

Coun David Borrow retained his Moor Park seat with 1,034 votes – 59 per cent of the vote. He said: “Nothing has changed hands. We won four seats in 2011, two Independent, one Liberal and one from the Tories. The majority in all those four wards have gone up massively. If you look at the results in some of the Fulwood wards - we have never won any of those wards - but we did far better in all of them. We were only 13 votes behind in Ingol.

“There’s plenty of scope for the future. Labour majorities have gone up and the results are a lot better.”

During the count Deputy Leader Coun John Swindells had predicted the Labour group would win all the seats it was standing for. He kept his University ward with 627 votes, with 55.5 per cent of the vote.

He said he was “happy” but that the win “wasn’t unexpected.”

He added: “It was really great yesterday to see the number of first time voters, particularly students, coming to actually vote. I was really surprised by the number who took the time to take a selfie on the selfie spots left outside. They were queued up to use that. I thought it was great.”

Former conservative group leader Eric Fazackerley said he knows Preston is a Labour city but also said he was ‘euphoric’ with the national Tory results. His Sharoe Green ward was retained by the party with candidate Sonia Gildert.

He said: “I am really pleased we have my successor in, she is new to politics she is a hard worker and I am really pleased for her. All parties have difficulty finding suitable candidates, we have been very lucky.”

Eric, 82, who was also the leader of the group locally, stood down after 20 years representing the ward He said: “It’s clear after 20 years it is a labour city - it’s hard to over come.”

The Liberal Democrats defended just one seat in Ingol and won with Jason Jeffrey retained the seat with 922 votes, 30.4 per cent

Coun John Potter who represents Cadley said the party wasn’t strong enough in the other wards.

Of the national picture he said: “It’s been a rough few years for the Liberal Democrats - you have to pick yourself up and fight new battles.”

There were elections in 19 wards, with no elections in Cadley Ward, Fishwick Ward and St George’s Ward.