THERE has been a major political shake-up in Radcliffe's wards at the recent local elections as the ruling Labour party lost two seats and narrowly held onto a third.

Residents voted for an independent candidate in place of a Labour seat in Radcliffe East, while in Radcliffe North, Labour lost out to Conservatives.

The overhaul saw James Mason, of the fledgling Radcliffe First political party, elected as an independent councillor for Radcliffe East.

Meanwhile, Beth Mortenson, aged 18, has become the youngest ever councillor in Bury's history. She replaces Rachel Skillen in Radcliffe West.

Sam Hurst has taken the Radcliffe North seat from Jamie Walker, who had served in the town for four years.

Beth told the Radcliffe Times: "Being elected is the most amazing feeling. To know that the people of Radcliffe support me, especially at 18, is such a surreal thing and I couldn't be more thankful to the voters, the people who came out to help me campaign and my family, for supporting me.

"I have always had a passion for helping people and I believe that politics is the best way to help the biggest amount of people."

Beth undertook work experience with her MP when she was aged just 14, and was elected as Deputy Youth MP for Bury when she was 15. She has also represented Bury across the North West and represented Greater Manchester at a select committee in Parliament.

She said: "Being the youngest councillor in Bury Council's history is such an amazing achievement, but does come with drawbacks. At 18, it has been questioned whether I have any suitable experience to be able to represent people.

"Although I don't have any council specific experience, I think the most important skill to have is the ability to listen to people. You also have to want to help people."

Beth who is currently in her final year studying law, politics and theatre at Holy Cross Sixth Form College, said that one of her top priorities was getting Radcliffe a new high school.

Other aims include encouraging young voters to enter politics, continuing with the regeneration of Radcliffe, and "sending a powerful message that Radcliffe is a force to be reckoned with."

She said: "We, together as a team, can make big changes, I'm simply a voice that listens to Radcliffe to help."

Her mum Donna Mortenson said: "I am very proud of Beth. She has always been a very determined young lady and will do her very utmost to help the residents of Radcliffe West Labour ward and serve the community.

"I know she is very excited and eager for this new role and we wish her all the success."

Last week's elections also saw the "surprise" election of Independent candidate James Mason in Radcliffe East ward.

Labour also came within a whisker of losing Radcliffe West to Independent Carol Birchmore.

Mr Mason, aged 47, said: "It feels fantastic to have achieved this at first attempt. I didn't envisage winning first time round.

"Collectively, we were only 16 votes away from taking both wards which shows there is certainly appetite for an independent party.

"At the moment I am only one. Next time we plan to have three candidates in the wards. Carol intends to stand again. Our membership is growing."

Radcliffe First has been registered as an official party. Continuing the town's regeneration and responding to the concerns of residents is high on Mr Mason's agenda.

He said: "Several people have already been in touch with me about various issues.

"I am already looking into complaints about anti-social behaviour, railings that have been damaged and other issues."

He added: "I also want to work on the community spirit in Radcliffe — that does not cost much but would make a huge difference."