LABOUR maintained their majority council at last week’s election despite a lower voter turnout than in previous years.

Results in Barnsley reflect the national trend, as the party won 17 of a potential 21 seats in Barnsley.

The remaining four seats Darton East, Dodworth, Kingstone and Penistone West were taken by the Liberal Democrats, with a surprise win for Steve Bullcock, who had unsuccessfully run in two previous elections.

Meanwhile the Conservatives lost the one seat they had previously controlled, with candidate Peter Millar losing out in Penistone East to Labour’s John Roberts meaning there is now only one Tory councillor left in Barnsley, Robert Barnard.

The local results align with the national sentiment, as Labour gained 186 new seats, Liberal Democrats 104, while the Conservatives lost 474.

The Labour Party now has 1,158 councillors across England, followed by the Lib Dems with 522 and Tories with 515.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton told the Chronicle: “These excellent results show continuing support for Labour and the work we are doing to build a strong future for the borough. They also reflect the council’s strong performance as double Council of the Year winner and last week’s performance data from the government putting the council as the best overall performing metropolitan council in the country.

“However we are not complacent and we will continue to work hard to maintain that trust from our residents and provide them with the services and the future they deserve.”

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With the General Election coming later this year, the wins suggest further success for Labour.

Nevertheless, last week’s election saw a low turnout, with only 44,697 or 24.14 per cent of the 186,249-person electorate showing up to vote, a 0.58 per cent dip from last year.

Turnout has been dropping year-on-year since 2021 when 28.47 per cent of the electorate turned out with this year being the lowest on council records.

Postal votes remained the most popular voting method, as 53.6 per cent chose to post in their votes, similar to the 57.8 per cent who did last year.

Labour bucks trend in Rockingham

SHERRY Holling dedicated her win in last week’s local elections to the late Jim Andrews – the man who persuaded her to start her journey into politics.

Sherry has always been interested in politics, even attending Labour group meetings as a baby with her mum.

She grew up in the Conservative stronghold on Bromley, in London – but after moving to Barnsley in 1994 she says she sees the town as her home.

After last week’s local elections, Sherry was elected as a Labour councillor into the Rockingham ward – an area which has seen two of its Labour councillors lose their seats in successive votes.

But Sherry has broken that trend – in the area with the fourth-highest turnout across the whole borough – much to her delight.

She told the Chronicle: “I’m extremely delighted. I’m delighted to finally get elected and it should help me help more people.

“Whilst campaigning I’ve met lots of lovely people and been to community groups. I’m wanting to go around and support these people as well as I can.”

The late Jim Andrews, former deputy leader of the council, lost his seat in 2022 to now Reform UK Coun David White – and died later that year.

Sherry had known Jim for three decades, and credits him as the man who got her into the political landscape of Barnsley.

She stood last year in the Worsbrough ward but lost out to independent Coun Jake Lodge – but she’s pleased she’s now been elected in Rockingham, a place she says she feels at home.

“I’ve known Jim for nearly 30 years,” she said. “It was Jim that told me I should stand to be a councillor here in Barnsley.

“Due to his untimely death I missed out on him telling me how I should do things. It was a difficult campaign in Worsbrough – but I felt more at home this time.

“Jim knew that I was always sticking my nose in in the community. He knew everything that I was involved in.

“It’s a full circle moment – I’m just sad that Jim wasn’t here to see it. I did this for him.”

Sherry has a long affiliation with the Rockingham ward – and she’s hoping her expertise will be on show so she’s able to support those who need it most.

“My mum, dad and brother have been here for 30 years,” she said. “People know me in Birdwell but I know that Rockingham is obviously bigger than just that. My kids learned to swim at Kirk Balk. I’m a southerner but this is my home – I love Barnsley.”

But after becoming the first Labour councillor elected in the ward since Coun Nicola Sumner – who now represents the Central ward – won a coin toss decision in 2021, she’s already got her mind set on turning the tide in Rockingham.

“I want to get things done,” she said. “I want to bring the love back to Rockingham – I’m hoping the tide is now turning. I’ve got a lot of life experience.

“I’ve been a carer so I understand what it’s like to balance that and having an actual life.

“My strapline is that I want to help everyone to have the best life however they choose to live it. I’m not judgemental.”

Dorothy takes over mum’s old ward and is doing ‘what she was raised to do’

A COUNCILLOR has returned to her roots after switching wards in last week’s election.

Coun Dorothy Coates’ late mother, Dorothy Higginbottom – who received an MBE in 2022 just months before she died – served as a councillor in the North East ward for more than 16 years until 2022.

This year, Coun Coates swapped seats, leaving Dearne South to begin campaigning in her mother’s old ward as she does her best to continue the family’s long-standing legacy in local politics.

She told the Chronicle: “When I started and knew I wanted to be a councillor I purposefully stayed away from the North East ward.

“I’ve still done community work in the Great Houghton area for the past 35 years, but I took care because it was my mum’s ward and I didn’t want to take over her space.

“It was never something I advertised doing, I was just doing it because I wanted to help.”

When the opportunity to move across to the area became available, it seemed like an opportunity Dorothy couldn’t miss, and last week she was officially announced as the North East ward’s new councillor, joining Couns Ashley Peace and Ruth Booker.

“Opportunities like this don’t come around often – I knew I needed to take it,” she added. “Great Houghton is an especially big deal to me and my family.

“We’ve all worked in the area, not just my mum, but all the way back to my great-grandfather.

“I aim to work hard for the whole area – I’m just doing what I was raised to do.”

Robert is now the sole Tory councillor in town

YOU wait 25 years for a Labour councillor in Penistone East and then two arrive in quick succession – that’s how the saying goes, isn’t it?

Well, not quite – but the old adage of buses is rather apt following last week’s election win for John Roberts.

When Coun Alex Burnett was elected to the ward last year, he became the first Labour councillor to make his way into Penistone East for a quarter of a century.

Following last Thursday’s vote, 35-year-old John is now the second in as many years after beating Conservative candidate Peter Millar by less than 200 votes.

John told the Chronicle: “I’m a little bit overwhelmed but it’s exciting. I think that it shows people are ready for change.

“It also shows the difference that Alex is making, how well he’s doing. This is the first time I’ve tried to be a councillor – Alex has been a massive help.”

Coun Robert Barnard is now the only Conservative councillor across the whole of the borough, and he also represents Penistone East.

But is John expecting the number to go to zero at the next election in 2026?

“I hope so,” he said. “I’d like the number to go down to zero – that’s what I’ll be working on.

“It will be different if Labour is in power in the government.

“I’m hoping to add to everything that Alex has done so far. This was a target seat for Labour and it’s been a massive campaign. There’s no getting around it, Penistone is one of the more affluent areas of Barnsley but I don’t see any ward in the country – and Barnsley – being a Conservative stronghold anymore.”

John has heaped praise on his now fellow councillor Alex Burnett, as well as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge Dr Marie Tidball.

“The main thing for me is that this wasn’t just an individual effort,” he added. “Alex and Marie have been a bit of a mentor for me.

“They’ve given me a lot of help – as have a lot of the other Labour members. I was selected last year and we’ve been out at least once a week speaking to people since then.”

John, who lives in Penistone himself, has already outlined a few issues he wants to support residents with.

“Because it’s an affluent area there’s definitely a perceived problem with crime, especially vehicle crime,” he said. “I’m wanting to work with the police about that – speaking with the community is important.

“Alex and I will work as a team to do the most we can to support residents.”

Steve elected at third time of asking...

THIRD time’s the charm for Steve Bullcock who has finally found a place on the council.

The Liberal Democrat candidate has unsuccessfully run for election twice before, finally winning at last week’s election with 791 votes – 200 more than his Labour competitor Simon Williamson.

He has now successfully taken the Kingstone ward seat from Labour, growing the Liberal Democrat opposition in town.

Yet, despite his past election disappointments, Coun Bullcock has always been a strong advocate for change in the borough and regularly writes into the Chronicle’s letters page with his hopes.

After the announcement on Friday, he told the Chronicle: “I don’t like the word ‘activist’ but I have been active in the community for quite a while.

“I basically just want to see Kingstone improve – I’ve seen the improvements made around Barnsley town centre so now I’d like to see the same in Kingstone.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s great to be working with Phil Wright, the other Liberal Democrat, and of course with the Labour council that’s in place at the moment and Kath Mitchell in Kingstone.

“The three of us need to get the place improved and that’s what it’s all about.

“My children live there, my grandchildren live there, I live there – I want it to be right.”

The new councillor specifically noted antisocial behaviour as a major concern for the area that he wishes to focus on.

“Antisocial behaviour covers a multitude of sins,” he added. "It’s fly-tipping but then more social things such as council properties.

“It should be getting improved and there should be more money spent on it.

“But, you know, that’s a wishlist, there are realities you’ve got to consider and I’ve got to consider those realities.

“I’ve seen the town improve massively, but I sometimes feel the outer edges are a bit neglected and there could be more time and enthusiasm directed to that – that’s what I feel I can give.”