LABOUR has retained control Of West Lancashire Borough Council despite losing four seats to the Our West Lancashire party.
Elections were held in 18 out of the 25 wards at West Lancashire Borough Council on Thursday, May 2.
Labour retained seven seats (losing four), the Conservatives retained seven and Our West Lancashire won four.
OWLs won their seats in the Bickerstaffe ward, and all three Ormskirk wards (the Derby ward, the Knowsley ward and the Scott ward).
OWL group chairman, Councillor Adrian Owens pointed out that Community activist, Jane Thompson won Scott ward by almost 400 votes having missed out narrowly last year. He added that Gordon Johnson won Derby ward with more than 64% of the votes while Kate Mitchell beat high-profile Labour councillor Nikki Hennessy by 120 votes in Knowsley ward in a hard-fought contest.
Cllr Owens said that in Bickerstaffe, the “huge unpopularity” of Labour’s local plan proposals was laid bare as life-long Bickerstaffe resident, Ian Rigby swept to a massive victory with 67% of the vote.
The overall turnout was 34% and the ward with the least amount of voters was Tanhouse, which saw only 24% vote.
Overall Labour now has 29 seats, the Conservatives 19 and Our West Lancashire six.
Cllr Adrian Owens said: “I was ‘blown away’ by the scale and number of victories we achieved.
“Thank you to everyone who voted for us. The local plan proposals were clearly a significant factor everywhere, while Ormskirk residents were also very concerned about the size and scale of three proposed student block developments in the town centre.
“This should be a massive wake–up call for both main parties, especially the ruling Labour group. They need to change their approach to residents, and quickly.
“The council leader has ignored requests from hard-pressed retailers to meet with him and he hasn’t had the courtesy to reply to the many residents who wrote to him requesting a full public consultation on the future of the bus station site.
“The main parties need to realise that residents are not ‘voting fodder’ to corral into voting the ‘right’ way every election, only then to be forgotten about until next time.
“West Lancashire is full of experienced and well informed residents, but, to have a successful council, particularly when finance is tight, the council must now listen seriously to residents' concerns and seize the opportunity to harness the talent and positivity that exists on their doorstep.
“We will await the revised local plan proposals from Labour. The revisions will need to be wholesale and significant if they are to have any chance of final approval.”
Cllr Owens concluded by saying that the group are building support in Skelmersdale, where they polled 34% of the vote in Skelmersdale South. The results mean that the council Independents have swelled their numbers to six councillors.
Cllr. David Westley, Conservative group leader, said: "I am delighted with the result and thank the residents of West Lancashire for having faith in their hard working Conservative Councillors. The results were remarkable with six of our candidates increasing the Conservative majorities.
“It was particularly pleasing that our two new candidates were both elected, Alex Blundell in Scarisbrick and Anne Sutton in Tarleton. Both are young, born and bred in their wards and I know their background, local knowledge and enthusiasm will be a real boost for the Conservative Group.
“As the official opposition on West Lancs Borough Council, the Conservative Group has the important role of providing the necessary overview and scrutiny of the Labour Administration. The Conservatives were successful in co-ordinating the opposition to Labour's New Local Plan and I assure residents that we take this role very seriously and will continue to act in their best interests."
The Labour group has been contacted for comment.