ELECTIONS 2011: High Peak Borough Council and parishes

PEOPLE across the High Peak went to the polls last week to elect their new borough and parish councillors.

And while the Labour Party made several gains, it wasn’t such a good day for the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats who lost 12 High Peak seats between them. Labour now have 21 councillors across the borough, compared to the Conservatives’ 15 and the Liberal Democrats’ three. There are also four Independent councillors.

Voters were also asked to have their say on the proposals for an Alternative Vote system or AV, with an overwhelming No vote being returned in the High Peak, reflecting the national trend. Only 10,443 people voted yes to AV with more than double that number at 21,569 voting no.

There was delight for Labour in the Buxton Central and Cote Heath wards as they took four seats from the Conservative Party with Philip Ashmore and Christopher Payne being elected in the Buxton Central Ward and Lynn Stone and Keith Savage winning the Cote Heath seats.

The Cote Heath ward was the last ward to be announced after being subject to a number of recounts because just a few votes separated the candidates. Conservative Party candidate Colin Boynton had 521 but Labour’s Keith Savage was elected with 525 votes.

And Labour also made gains in the Barms, Chapel West, New Mills East and New Mills West wards as both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats suffered losses.

Labour’s Philip Ashmore and Christopher Payne are both first – time candidates and were delighted to secure the two seats in Buxton Central Ward from two Conservative councillors, Jonathan Davey and Bill Fiddy.

Cllr Ashmore is Buxton-born and bred while Cllr Payne moved to Buxton from Brighton two years ago.

Cllr Ashmore said: “Our agenda is defending people against the cuts that have been handed down by the government.”

And Cllr Payne added: “There were a few key issues we need to focus on that came up on the doorstep, such as the swimming pool.

“Getting that back into operation seems to be very important for people. Parking in the central area is a definite issue which needs to be looked at.”

Independent candidate Chris Pearson was elected onto the borough council for the Blackbrook ward after many years as a Conservative Party councillor.

He said: “I’ve been a Conservative councillor for Blackbrook for eight years but I can’t be told to vote for things that I don’t agree with and the people who elected me don’t want a nodding donkey either.

“I just wish more people would stand up independently and say I’m here from Chinley, Chapel, Whaley Bridge or wherever and I’m here for that area. I have lived in the High Peak all my life so I don’t want to see it get wrecked.”

The Conservative Party’s Jim Perkins was elected to the borough for the Chapel East ward, taking the seat from Liberal Democrat Mike Harrison.

And Tory Emily Thrane, who retained her seat in the Temple ward, said: “It was a good turnout at nearly 54 per cent and for local government, that is very good.”

The Green Party fielded six candidates across the High Peak and despite failing to win a seat, they were still pleased with a growth in support.

The party said that they had won the support of 23 per cent of voters on average in the six wards they contested with candidate Charlotte Farrell, who stood in the Hope Valley, taking 35 per cent of the vote.

David Lomax, who retained his seat in Whaley Bridge for the Liberal Democrats, said he was disappointed with his party’s results in the High Peak adding: “We have lost some very valuable councillors.

“A particularly sad loss to High Peak is Mike Harrison who has a wealth of experience on Development Control.

“He was one of the few people who spoke at Development Control meetings and was certainly one of the few who spoke any sense.”

In Chapel West, Labour’s Tim Norton was delighted to elected back on to the borough council after narrowly missing out in 2007

Conservative councillor Stewart Young retained the other seat for Chapel West.