Labour avoid election blows following year of financial troubles in Slough

Labour avoid election blows following year of financial troubles

Labour celebrate their election victory in Chalvey

Labour avoided any significant election blows as the party faced the town’s voters for the first time since details emerged of its financial crisis.

The local authority has faced 12 months of financial turmoil and is tasked with selling off £600 million of council assets to pay off its sky-high borrowing debt.

Council leader James Swindlehurst described the past year as his ‘most challenging’ of his 20 years of service.

But his party only suffered one loss, in Colnbrook with Poyle, where the Conservative candidate Puja Bedi edged out Avtar Cheema by 42 votes.

The council leader said: “We’re obviously very sorry for our councillor who lost by only 42, but [the election] proves nothing has really changed despite all the issues in the town and nationally.

“We're very pleased with the results to have 12 out of the 14 seats back in Labour's hands.

“We've been held to account properly by the public and we were never shy of that, and now we're on to the big election next year.

“We’re here to serve the residents, that’s why they elect us, that’s what we are for. We all feel our share of embarrassment about what’s happened to the council.”

Councillor Swindlehurst had feared tight contests in both Langley wards.

Tory candidate for Langley Kedermister Sharon O’Reilly lost out to Labour’s Preston Brooker by 850 votes to 695.

Christine Bamigbola came close in Langley St Mary’s, losing by 902 votes to 1,007 to Labour’s Harjinder Minhas.

Wexham Lea also saw Labour narrowly stave off the Conservative challenge as Haqeeq Dar was re-elected by the finest of margins, securing 1,023 votes to the 968 of Tory candidate Mubashir Ahmed.

The Conservatives held onto their seat in Haymill and Lynch Hill with candidate Anna Wright securing re-election.

The Slough Conservatives gained one seat in Colnbrook with Poyle

Councillor Dexter Smith, leader of the Slough Conservatives, said: “I think people of Slough have yet to really understand the full consequence of the council’s bankruptcy last year, and the impact that’s going to have right the way through this decade.

“Our heads are now down looking for candidates [for next May], we will field a full slate again, we are the alternative.

“Labour’s bankrupted this town, and we would make different choices, and the people of Slough can trust that we are here to stay, we are making grounds and we intend to fight to take the administration in 2023.”

The Slough Liberal Democrats failed to secure a seat but the party’s candidates in Cippenham Meadows and Elliman, Matthew Taylor and Amjad Abbasi, both got more votes than the Tory candidate for the area.

Slough MP Tan Dhesi, who attended the count at the council’s Observatory House headquarters, said: “This has been a challenging year for us but I’m sure the council will work hard and resolve the issues to make sure we are back on an even keel and delivering excellent services to the people of Slough as we’ve done over several years.

“This is a turning point for Labour. We have made a huge dent into Tory heartlands (across the country) and this shows Labour is making substantial changes within our party and within our policies.

“We are also regaining the trust of the public to ensure in the very near future there will be a Labour Government.”

Click here for a recap of the 2022 local election results.

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