LABOUR tightened its grip on Bury Council after gaining three seats from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.
The party gained seats in today's poll from the Conservatives in Pikington Park and Elton, and one from the Liberal Democrats, in St Mary’s.
Although UKIP did well nationally and in neighbouring Bolton, its Bury candidates missed out on victory but made a strong showing, coming second or third in the nine wards that the party stood in.
The Liberal Democrats suffered a number of poor results, coming last in a number of wards including polling just 33 votes in Ramsbottom. The party now has only one councillor in Bury.
After the results were announced in Castle Leisure Centre last Friday, Bury Council is now made up of 38 Labour councillors, 11 Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat and one independent.
Labour leader Cllr Mike Connolly said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have held every seat which we defended, and taken three seats.”
Tory leader Iain Gartside said: “Since the last election in 2012, Bury Conservatives have worked hard to hold on to their share of the votes across the seats. We are now looking forward to the election next year”.
Labour’s John Mallon took Pilkington Park ward from incumbent Conservative councillor Bernie Vincent with a majority of just 19 votes, after a recount.
Cllr Mallon said: “I am delighted, this has been the result of a five-year campaign in Pilkington Park, and it is with the help of excellent support across the party and from residents.
“It has always been a very close-run ward for the last three or four years, it has a reputation for being a bit nip and tuck, so I am happy with that majority.”
Mr Vincent said: “I am obviously disappointed, but when I was elected in 2000 it was with a majority of six.
“But that is the name of the game, when you are in government you get hammered. I hope to be back next year.”
Labour candidate Sarah Kerrison defeated Conservative councillor Michael Hankey with a 78 -vote majority in Elton.
Mr Hankey was a former chairman of governors at Elton Primary School, which is set to become an academy.
Cllr Kerrison said: “Everyone worked so hard, it is amazing to see it happen. The school was an important issue on the doorstep, and a lot of people felt very strongly about it being forced to become an academy against the school’s will.”
Lib Dem Donal O’Hanlon lost his seat in St Mary’s to Labour’s Eamonn O’Brien, who won with a 373-vote majority.
Cllr O’Brien said: “I am delighted, it has come after a lot of hard work. There are a lot of good things coming to Prestwich, and it is great to be a part of it.
“I think in the past few years people have realised that Labour is the party that has been attending meetings and working hard for the area, but I pay tribute to what Donal has done for the ward.”
Mr O’Hanlon said: “It was not as close as I thought it would be. I am disappointed but this is the whole point of having elections. I probably will stand again, I am still a big supporter of the party. I always knew it was going to be a difficult feat with our national position and we did what we could.”
There was also a closely fought battle in Tottington, where Iain Gartside fought off the challenge of Labour’s Judith Kelly, securing a 276-seat majority.
Cllr Gartside said: “I am pleased to hold my own seat in Tottington. Labour really did target Tottington but I have worked very hard for the people of my ward, along with Cllr Yvonne Wright. But it was a very positive campaign on both sides — we both want the best for Tottington.” Mrs Kelly said: “This has not put me off — there are lots of options out there for staying involved in politics.
“At least I lost to somebody who does a good job in his ward. We both do things in the community so for us not to co-operate would not make any sense.”
Mr O’Hanlon’s Lib Dem colleague party leader Tim Pickstone fought off the challenge of Labour’s Catherine Preston in Holyrood, securing a 342-seat majority and becoming the party’s only councillor in Bury.
Elsewhere, Alan Quinn scored a resounding victory in Sedgley, Tamoor Tariq fought off a challenge from UKIP in Redvales, and Ian Bevan held Ramsbottom for the Tories.
The seats of former councillors Ken and Ann Audin were retained by Labour, by Mary Whitby in Besses and by Paul Adams in Unsworth.
Veteran Labour councillor Trevor Holt secured another victory holding off UKIP into second, Labour’s Jane Lewis won in Radcliffe North and Nick Parnell also held his seat for Labour in Radcliffe East.
Tory Cllr Susan Nuttall, wife of Bury North MP David held her seat in Church ward, and Tory deputy leader James Daly pushed Labour into second with a strong majority in North Manor.
Bury council cabinet members Rishi Shori and Sandra Walmsley retained their seats for Labour in Radcliffe West and Moorside.
Turnout rose to 36.9 per cent, up on the last local elections held in 2012.