Voting can make a difference

No one is likely to make a film of last Friday’s election count for High Peak Council, but it would be an edge-of-your-seat thriller if it were, and showed what a difference just a few votes can make.

I’ve been knocking on doors to speak to people around High Peak ever since my election in 2017, so I welcomed the opportunity to speak to more residents in the weeks before these elections.

I hear from people who wouldn’t usually contact their MP, sometimes those who are housebound, or Carers who really need support but don’t know where to turn, and it’s good to be able to help.

I also encourage people to vote – whichever party it’s for. Friday’s results showed what a difference it can make.

High Peak Borough Council has 43 councillors.  In 2015 the Conservatives won 23 seats so had a small majority.  The Labour Party had won 17 seats and needed to win another 5 in this election to run the Council.

The number of people voting in local elections is always quite low.  In Hayfield just 13 votes separated the Conservative councillor from her Labour rival, and in New Mills West there were 24 votes difference.

The highest turnout was in Hope Valley where the Green Party had put forward two candidates who were both elected.  The Green Party did me the honour of supporting my candidacy in 2017 and Labour did not stand in Hope Valley in this election.

The Labour and Green parties share many of the same policy aims of tackling climate change and tackling poverty, as I’ve set out many times in my columns, so I’m sure the councillors will work well together.

With Friday’s vote counting almost over, Labour had won 20 seats so were just short of a majority before the final results for Whaley Bridge were announced.

Labour have only ever won one seat in Whaley so I was thrilled that both of our candidates were elected, giving the 22 seats needed for a majority.

And that the two new councillors are Kath who has fibromyalgia and is usually wheelchair-bound, and Shannon, her 21 year old daughter.  Kath stood to help the Council become more disability-aware, and Shannon for them to reach out to young people, both groups which can feel excluded by local politics.

I hope last week’s results will mean more than a change of colour of our Council, but a real change of perspective – to raise the issues of poor housing, bailiffs, air pollution and the services we need – and I look forward to working with our councillors, volunteers and residents to make sure we stay in touch and you can’t say you only see us at elections!