Wirral Council could change massively after a landmark shift in the borough’s politics.
In this year’s local election results, Labour lost three seats in the east of the borough to the Greens, while picking up one in Rock Ferry.
The Conservatives gained Pensby and Thingwall, specifically the ward’s seat last fought in 2016, when a Labour member won it only to defect and become an Independent.
These changes mean Labour is down overall by two seats compared to where it was after the 2019 elections and will have to fight much harder to get votes through.
In particular, the Conservatives, as well as the other opposition parties, have focused their campaigns on protecting the greenbelt, which they say is under threat due to Labour’s failure to produce a Local Plan.
During the campaign, Labour put out a pledge to protect the greenbelt entirely in a blueprint Local Plan, but the now stronger opposition parties are likely to want the strongest possible protections for the borough’s greenbelt sites.
Thursday’s vote may also affect the huge plans to regenerate Birkenhead.
Labour has claimed a great deal of responsibility for a vision which includes over 600 new homes, Grade A office space and a new market in Birkenhead.
But after their gains in these elections, the Conservatives and the Green Party, as well as the Lib Dems, will have more power to alter the plans and make changes to them.
More than anything else though it is the style of politics which could change in Wirral, with Green gains in two Birkenhead seats and Bebington the days of Labour majorities in Wirral look to be long gone.
So the party will need to govern in a more cross-party fashion and it will have to accept that should all the opposition parties unite they have the power to pass plans which Labour may oppose.
A small number of councillors from any party in the council could gain huge power if their votes are vital to getting key motions through at full council meetings.
Reacting to the results, Labour councillor Janette Williamson, leader of Wirral Council, said: “I think we’ve done really well in Wirral.
“You’ve just mentioned how it’s playing out nationally, but we’ve stayed roughly where we were.”
For the Conservatives, Cllr Tom Anderson said: “I think we’ve had a really good day, Pensby and Thingwall was a Labour seat when we last fought this seat in 2016, but [Dr] Ivan [Camphor, Tory candidate in the ward] has done a fantastic job.
“He’s a local GP who wants to protect the greenbelt and people in Pensby and Thingwall spoke clearly.”
Victorious Green Party candidate for Bebington, Cllr Jason Walsh, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon, absolutely thrilled. The people in Bebington have voted for change.”
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For the Lib Dems, councillor Allan Brame said: “The council looks even more interesting now, it’s very closely balanced, no longer do we have the rule of one Labour Party.”
After congratulating the Greens on their gains, Cllr Brame added that he was “delighted” with the two Lib Dem holds in Oxton and Eastham.