THE CONSERVATIVES have won a shock win in Bolton, with local candidate Toby Hewitt gaining Hulton from Labour.
The seat was previously held by Labour councillor Darren Whitehead, who died in November, prompting the by-election.
Cllr Hewitt was elected with a majority of 276 with a turnout of 29.68%.
CON Toby Hewitt – 1,455
GREEN James Tomkinson – 52
LABOUR Rabiya Jiva – 1,179
LIB DEM Derek Gradwell – 67
UKIP Bev Fletcher – 190
MAJORITY: 276 TURNOUT: 29.68%
The Hulton ward now has two Conservative councillors and one Labour councillor.
Mr Hewitt thanked Conservative voters and supporters who had helped his campaign: “It’s been such a positive effort from the team, they have been so energetic and their energy has rubbed off on me.
It’s been good fun and now comes the responsibility.
I must have walked up and down the length of the ward and people have raised issues of fly tipping, crime, congestion and house building.
Those pressures are there and they are there to be tackled.”
Conservative MP for Bolton West, Chris Green said “I was delighted to see the result but Toby has worked incredibly hard and the commitment he’s offering will stand him in good stead.
“When people thought about it they clearly wanted someone who will stand up for the issues that matter.”
Labour candidate Rabiya Jiva said she was disappointed with the result.
She said: “It was a good response and I will be back in May to take on Diane [Parkinson].”
(Cllr Parkinson is the other Conservative representing the Hulton ward since she defected from UKIP.)
“It was a good shot and well done to everyone who put the work in. I can appreciate the bad weather and the cold and the time of year. It’s unpleasant. But people should know if they need anything I’m there for them.”
Mrs Jiva was supported by Bolton South East Labour MP, Yasmin Qureshi.
Qureshi and Jiva both blamed the “poor weather” for the Labour defeat.
UKIP COLLAPSE BLAMED ON (HENRY) BOLTON
Cllr Sean Hornby, the UKIP leader in Bolton council blamed the party’s ongoing leadership troubles with Henry Bolton.
Hornby said: “We came third like last time and the consolation is the Liberals got two percent of the vote.
“Our vote went to the Conservatives and it wasn’t a good night for us.”
Hornby warned that Bolton’s ruling Labour group was being sent a message by the voters, adding: “They are in control of the council and despite the change of leader they are not out of the woods yet.”
Hornby was referring to a scandal last year that rocked Bolton Town Hall.
In December last year, Bolton Council’s former Labour leader Cliff Morris was forced to resign following a scandal involving Asons solicitors.
Morris secretly approved grant funding to Asons to ‘assist them in the development costs’ associated with their recent move to the town centre offices.
The meeting was not open to the press, public or leaders of the minor opposition parties and the council has refused to reveal the amount of funding given.
However, a local newspaper later learned that the sum of the grant given was £300,000.
Morris said the decision was made to ensure that a large company remained in the town centre and said the authority has helped other businesses in the past.
In February 2017, a petition with more than 3,700 signatures called for Morris to step down and was delivered to the Mayor of Bolton.
Hundreds of people even protested outside the town hall after the Asons scandal came to light.
Morris said before he stepped down on December 31st last year that ‘some mistakes had been made’ during his time as leader and that the way the issues of the granting of £300,000 to Asons had panned out had been ‘regretful’.
Morris had ruled over Bolton Council for 11 years, with some claiming he acted like a “Tinpot Dictator.”