It has been a victorious night for Oldham's Independents - and a difficult one for Labour.

There were cheers across the count floor of the Civic Centre in the early hours this morning (May 3) as Independent candidates gained seats time and time again.

The overall turnout for local elections this year was also higher with 35.58 per cent of residents casting their ballots this year - a rise from the 31.5 per cent turnout the year before.

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Among the Independent candidates elected are:

  • Werneth - Ali Amjad (HELD)
  • St Mary's - Aisha Kouser (GAIN from Labour)
  • Coldhurst - Montaz Ali Azad (GAIN from Labour)
  • Royton South - Jade Hughes (GAIN from Labour)
  • Alexandra - Zaheer Ali (GAIN from Labour)
  • Shaw - Lisa Navesey (GAIN from Liberal Democrats)
  • Waterhead - Stuart Allsopp (GAIN from Labour)
  • Failsworth West - Majid Khan (GAIN from Labour)

The win means Labour has now lost its overall control in a blow Council Leader, Arooj Shah, has called "strange".

She dubbed the loss a result of "toxic politics in Oldham".

The results mean Labour has 27 seats, Liberal Democrats nine seats, Conservatives eight and Independents 16.

Councillors at the count said the conflict in Gaza was a reoccurring theme on the doorstep this year with many abandoning Labour for an alternative voice.

Oldham Group (Independent) Councillor, Kamran Ghafoor, who came to support Muhammad Irfan, predicted a positive night for the borough's Independent candidates, saying they had "fought hard for the people of Oldham".

However, his colleague on the Hollinwood ward, Muhammad Irfan, lost his seat to Labour candidate, Naseem Aslam.

The councillor had switched allegiance after he and his two fellow ward members were suspended from the Conservative Party for attending a pro-Palestine march.

Speaking to The Oldham Times, he said: “Standing as an Independent I feel is better, I have no master.

“I think people will react positively to the change."

Councillor Abdul Wahid also said: “Our campaign was quite hard because obviously we’re losing the Conservative vote.

“It was a brave decision to leave the Conservative party."

Over in Failsworth East, Failsworth Independent Party candidate, Lucia Rea lost her seat to Labour's Ken Rustidge.

Reacting to the news, she said: “It was a clean campaign on our part, it was almost impossible to put anything up online without having anything said.

“I will now have a lot of free time, I’m self employed and have lost a lot of business and time with my daughter.

“I’m a single mum so even though she’ll be upset that I’ve lost she’ll be happy to have me around more."

Meanwhile, Labour's Cllr Rustidge said he was "very pleased" with the outcome and said: "We fought a very fair campaign. I promise to do my hardest for Failsworth East."

The loss of Labour control overall means there will need to be some "conversations" and "working together", Sam-Al-Hamdani of the Liberal Democrats said.

Cllr Shah, said the result calls for councillors across the board to come together for the people of Oldham.

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