A WAKE UP call, a bruising night, a kick up the backside.

There are plenty of ways to describe how Labour fared in last week’s local elections in which the overarching theme was the rise of the smaller parties or independents.

Yes, Brexit and people’s disillusionment with politics was a factor.

But the areas where the ruling party was hit are places facing huge local issues – specifically the plans to erode the green belt.

Indeed, in Haydock where the Greens powered to victory that issue has become a reality, with the creation of the gigantic warehouses at Florida Farm North.

It means for the first time the council chamber now has two Greens and two independents. A few years ago it looked extraordinarily difficult for a minority party to break the stranglehold of the traditional parties.

But times have changed and the growth of online community groups on social media is giving independents or smaller parties both the reach and platform to build grassroots campaigns that carry genuine momentum.

Opposition is a good thing for democracy. Different viewpoints in the town hall should be a positive for St Helens. However, being in opposition does come with a responsibility too and it will be intriguing to see if the mix of councillors (there are now 11 opposition councillors out of the 48) make a more significant attempt to hold Labour to account and present strong and coherent alternative policies.

If so, a Labour party which perhaps became too complacent will truly be kept on their toes – listening to the public more, provide stronger leadership and providing a clearer sense of direction.

  • It is with great sadness, that we report the death of Wally Ashcroft, the former councillor and businessman.

Wally was a genuine character and a gentleman who showed a tremendous passion for the Windle community where he lived.

Our thoughts are with his family.

Editor Andrew Kilmurray