Starting gun fired on Yorkshire race for power in town halls

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THE Uk Independence Party has some of Labour’s heartland areas in its sights as the Yorkshire battleground for next month’s local elections take shape.

The party will fight every seat in Doncaster and Rotherham as well as North East Lincolnshire and in some cases will be the only opposition to Labour candidates.

With voting for the European elections taking place on the same day, May 22, Ukip is hoping for a boost to its chances at a council level.

Ukip regional chairman Mike Hookem, who is also standing in the European elections, said: “We have got around 85 per cent of the seats covered which is a lot better than we have done in the past.

“We have got full slates in Rotherham and Doncaster, staunch Labour areas, where we have good candidates.

“We are hoping people go into the polling booths who go for Ukip in the Europeans and decide to vote for Ukip in the local elections as well. I think there’s going to be some upsets on the night.”

Labour also goes into the elections hoping to make inroads with the seats up for grabs this year last contested in 2010 when the party was being voted out of office in Westminster.

In Bradford, the party needs a net gain of just one seat to take overall control of the council and is looking to strengthen its position in Calderdale and Kirklees, where Labour also runs minority administrations.

Coun Tim Swift, Labour leader of Calderdale Council, said: “These elections are a chance for people in Calderdale and across Yorkshire to back a Labour party standing up for them and delivering for our area. Labour is the only party always acting in the best interests of the people we represent rather than blindly following the lead of the Tory-Lib Dem government in Westminster who have caused so much harm to our region over the last four years.

“Labour is already demonstrating that we can deliver here in Calderdale – now we’re asking for local people’s support to deliver a majority Labour administration to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, put vulnerable people first, and deliver efficiently and effectively the services people rely upon.”

The Liberal Democrats go into the elections struggling in the polls but the party will hope to defy expectations in areas such as Sheffield and Hull where it has previously held power and continues to be the principal opposition to Labour.

Coun Mike Ross, Liberal Democrat group leader on Hull Council, said: “These elections allow local people to have their say on the record of their local councils. In Hull, since Labour came back to power they have made many questionable decisions and residents are starting to see a return to the bad old ways.

“I am quite optimistic about these election and our chances in them. People do see voting Lib Dem gets them good results locally.”

The Conservatives will expect to hold onto Craven and Harrogate councils and will look to take the fight to Labour in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale where they are the second party.

They will want to see signs that next year it will be able to hold onto crucial Westminster seats such as Colne Valley and Dewsbury.

A Conservative spokesman said: “We all want our local councils across Yorkshire to be run well, to provide the first class services we rely on, and to spend our council tax carefully.

“Conservative councils in Yorkshire deliver high quality local services at a lower cost to hardworking tax payers. They have the right priorities, cutting waste but protecting frontline services and people can be confident the services needed will be well run, and council tax bills will be kept as low as possible.”

Among the minor parties, the Greens, who already have councillors on local authorities across the region including Kirklees where the party has eight, will be contesting more than half the seats on offer.

In Bradford, where Respect MP George Galloway was elected two years ago, the party will field nine candidates. Respect had five seats on Bradford council but all resigned from the party last year.

The Trade Unionists and Socialists against Cuts group is also contesting a large number of seats.

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