JUST 18 voters in Winsford made all the difference as Cheshire West and Chester Council slipped into no overall control on Friday.

Labour had held a majority of one heading into the local elections, but faced with a boundary review which cut the council down by five members, the party could only win 35 seats – one short of the 36 needed for a majority.

And Winsford played a vital role in the story of the election – as Mike Baynham, Conservative candidate for Over and Verdin, won the ward’s third CWAC seat by just seven votes over Labour’s David Stearne in the final result announced.

Cllr Baynham said: “I am absolutely delighted, it was a hard-fought campaign and it’s a real honour to be able to serve Over and Verdin for another four years. I would just like to thank everybody who voted for me.

READ > Labour loses CWAC majority by one seat

“I don’t look at it as a sweet victory because our party lost a few good members, and that was a disappointment.

“But I think we are going to have an interesting four years with no overall control. Clearly Labour will need to negotiate now, and we are always willing to listen.

“I think it will be an interesting few days ahead while the parties sort themselves out.”

Winsford Labour stalwarts Tom Blackmore (1,250 votes) and Gina Lewis (1,178) were also elected to represent Over and Verdin, but Liberal Democrat trio Bob Barton (551), Brandon Parkey (419) and Charlie Parkinson (509) all missed out – along with Conservatives James Pearson (850) and David Thomas (838), and the Green Party’s Christopher Payne (366).

Cllr Baynham (974) was the 28th Conservative to be elected onto CWAC last week, along with four independent members and the Green Party’s first ever CWAC councillor.

Two Liberal Democrats were also elected – including Malcolm Gaskill (372), who defeated Labour’s Stephen Burns (361) by just 11 votes in the Swanlow ward, while Tory Shaun Hopkins (278) also missed out.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Gaskill said: “I’m a bit disappointed with it to be honest because the feedback we were getting off the streets over the past month is that absolutely everybody and his dog was going to vote for me. And the result comes in – dear oh dear, it was tight.

“I don’t know what you have to do to get elected other than wear a red rose. If you wear a red rose you don’t have to do anything else, but if you don’t you’ve really got to work for it.

“My promise is what I said before the vote. Whatever the proposal is, if it’s for funding or whatever, we’ll take a look at it and if it’s not good for Winsford we’re not voting for it.

“I don’t care if Labour propose it, I don’t care if the Tories propose it, if it’s not good for Winsford and we’re not getting our fair crack of the whip, I’m really going to expose the lot.

“That’s going to stop and I will make a nuisance of myself, I will make a song and dance about stuff like this, because I’m on a holding to nobody.”

Elsewhere in Winsford, three Labour newcomers swept the board.

READ > 'I can find common ground with anyone'

Mandy Clare (487) was voted in to represent the Dene ward, ahead of Lib Dem Ailsa Gaskill-Jones (178), Conservative Liz Porritt (143) and Andrew Mann (128) of UKIP.

Joanne Moorcroft (434) was elected in Gravel ward ahead of Tory Saundra Middleton (250) and Paul Carter (154) of the Lib Dems, while Nathan Pardoe (425) was chosen to represent Wharton ahead of Lib Dem stalwart Bev Theron (275) and Conservative David McNeilage (122).

Just over a third of the Cheshire West electorate turned out to vote last Thursday at 34.7 per cent – but the turnouts in Winsford were among the lowest in the whole borough.

Wharton had the lowest turnout at 22.1 per cent, followed by Dene at 25.8 per cent, Gravel at 26.1 per cent, Over and Verdin at 28.1 per cent and Swanlow at 28.9 per cent.

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