Come the early hours of Friday morning the results of voting in a third of the 90 seats available on Bradford Council will start filtering through. But what can we expect?
Politics in Bradford can be unpredictable at the best of times – Labour regained control of the Council in 2010, just as, nationally, the party left Government. But since Respect’s George Galloway swept to victory with a 10,000-plus majority at the Bradford West by-election nearly five weeks ago, more surprises could be in store this week.
Pre-Galloway, Labour would no doubt have been hoping to consolidate on its gains of 2010 and 2011, which saw it take charge of the authority. But there are now real fears that the party could slip back again from the 43 seats it currently holds.
In what has been a heated campaign, punctuated with spats between the two parties, Respect are hoping to make some inroads into the Council. They are fielding 12 candidates and remain confident of taking seats – perhaps holding the balance of power.
Labour is fighting all 30 seats, as are the Liberal Democrats. However, the Conservatives have only been able to muster 28 candidates.
In addition, there are 13 Green candidates, eight for the UK Independence Party, three Democratic Nationalists, one independent, one for the British National Party and one Socialist Labour candidate.
A key seat to watch is Little Horton, where Labour leader and long-serving councillor Ian Greenwood will be hoping to stand up to the onslaught from Respect.
Coun Greenwood said: “Bradford needs leadership that’s committed to the district, believes in its future and unites, not divides. Only Labour is working towards a fair future for everyone in Bradford district. Labour has been in charge for less than two years, but we’re making progress cleaning up the mess left by a decade of Tory and Lib Det rule and we share people’s anger at their legacy,” he added.
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, said: “These are trying times and we feel that the Council must do all that it can to help local people through them.
“While the Council is receiving less funding than it has in previous years, recent figures show that savings are being delivered faster than originally hoped and it is clear that the Council had more scope to make savings than some others, which should see front-line services protected and the Conservative group will be working to ensure that there are no more needless cuts.”
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “A Lib Dem-run Council would turn the crisis into an opportunity to create a high skill, high wage economy in Bradford. We would set up a Heritage Construction College to create skilled jobs restoring our historic buildings, support a manufacturing growth plan to double the size of our neglected manufacturing base and work with businesses to boost the numbers of apprentices.”
Councillor Martin Love, leader of the Green group, said: “A Green vote is a vote for change and a vote for fairness in our district.
“We continue to defend those who were least to blame for the financial crisis, but who the Government seem determined to make pay for the greed of the city bankers.”
The Respect Party is opposed to war, privatisation and unemployment. It stands for peace, publicly-owned services and a decent future for all. Candidates aim to provide an alternative to the three mainsteam parties, who they say have failed the local community and not delivered on their promises.
UKIP has pledged in its manifesto to commit to cutting council tax and business rates, saving our greenbelt and saying no to wind farms, be tough on crime and anti-social behaviour, put more police on the streets, cut council executives and managers – not public services – control EU immigration, give real decision-making to local communities, and provide money for local services, not the EU.
The political make-up of the Council stands at the ruling Labour group on 43, the Conservatives with 27, Liberal Democrats on 11, three Green Party councillors, two councillors forming The Independents group, and three independents. One seat is currently vacant, given the resignation of Robert Payne in Keighley West following his conviction for animal cruelty.
- Updates will be available on the Telegraph & Argus website at telegraphandargus.co.uk throughout the night, as well as @jowinrowTandA on Twitter.