LABOUR moved within touching distance of an overall majority on Kirklees Council after gaining five seats.
Party activists celebrated wins across the district yesterday as voters turned on the Conservatives and Lib Dems.
Labour’s victims included Golcar Lib Dem Christine Iredale – who had been due to become mayor later this month.
Conservative Adrian Murphy, who had been due to serve as her deputy before taking the chains of office in 2013, also lost his seat in Kirkburton.
The Tories also lost Denby Dale and Dewsbury South to Labour – but picked up Lindley from the Lib Dems to finish on 18 seats overall.
In Holme Valley North the Conservatives lost to Charles Greaves, the third independent elected in the ward.
In Dalton Labour’s Naheed Mather unseated Lib Dem Rochelle Parchment.
Kirklees Labour leader Clr Mehboob Khan – who was easily re-elected in Greenhead – said the results showed the Conservatives had been wrong to focus their campaign on a proposal to divide the council in two.
“Splitting Kirklees was a Tory gimmick to try to detract from the key issues of creating employment and protecting health services,” he said.
“We campaigned on the important concerns and our policies resonated very strongly with local people.”
Clr Khan added that his 32-strong Labour group would continue to work with other parties on the 69-member council.
“I believe in these very difficult times people want politicians to work together to tackle the key issues and create employment.”
Labour’s winners included Paul Salveson, who unseated Lib Dem Christine Iredale in Golcar.
“I feel elated,” he said. “We fought a good principled campaign and focused on a combination of national and local issues.”
Party colleague Graham Turner was also happy after winning in Denby Dale at the sixth attempt.
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” said the Skelmanthorpe man.
“It’s been a long hard struggle but I’m glad the people of Denby Dale have placed their trust in me.”
Clr Turner took the seat at the expense of Conservative John Cook who said he was “gutted” at the result.
The Conservatives also lost in neighbouring Kirkburton, where Adrian Murphy was unseated by the Greens by just 23 votes.
“Unfortunately the state of the economy and the cuts which have to be made due to Labour’s huge overspend has held some people back from voting,” said the Lepton man.
Robert Barraclough took Kirkburton for the Greens, bringing the party up to five seats on Kirklees.
“I’m pleased and surprised to have won a tight race,” said the Farnley Tyas man.
There was more bad news for the Conservatives in Holme Valley North where the party lost a seat to Charles Greaves – the third independent elected to the ward.
“I think people are disappointed with party politicians and they see that independents are working for the community,” said the Honley man.
But there was better news for the Tories in Lindley where the party unseated Lib Dem Christine Stanfield by 200 votes.
Mark Hemingway, 52, returned to the council having previously represented Kirkburton.
“I wasn’t confident of winning but we fought a positive campaign instead of getting personal.
“My main issue is the same as it was when I first stood for the council – protecting green spaces from development.”
The Lib Dems lost four seats yesterday, including Dewsbury West to Labour’s Karen Rowling, who came to prominence during the campaign to keep Castle Hall School in Mirfield open three years ago.
A Kirklees Council spokesman said both she and Abdul Patel, who beat sitting Conservative Khizar Iqbal in Dewsbury South would not be giving Press interviews.
Former Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik, who was at the count at Dewsbury Sports Centre, welcomed the results.
The Labour man said: “The people of Dewsbury are in tune with this country, saying we can’t trust the Lib Dems and the Tories are the same old nasty Tories they’ve always been.”
However, there was some good news for the Lib Dems with Phil Scott holding Almondbury following the retirement of Ann Denham.
“The Lib Dem team in Almondbury have done a lot of hard work and the people have shown their appreciation,” said the 44-year-old ex-soldier.
Party colleague David Ridgway also held his seat in Colne Valley by more than 700 votes.
And Lib Dem leader Clr Kath Pinnock triumphed in Cleckheaton.
“We worked very hard as we always do and I’m pleased we got nearly 50% of the vote,” she said.
But Clr Pinnock added she was unhappy that her party had fallen from 14 seats to 10.
“I’m particularly sad that Rochelle has lost as she has campaigned really hard for the people of Dalton,” she said.
“It was always going to be a tough call because national politics play a big role in the local elections.”
Clr Pinnock added: “My priority would be to ensure we safeguard important services which we did in our budget by identifying a new form of income using the new flexibilities to charge income tax on empty homes which could bring enough money in to save our libraries and children’s centres.
“Labour have got to do that now – and I’ll challenge them if they don’t.”
See full breakdown of results on next page