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Red letter day

Reporter: Iram Ramzan
Date online: 17 February 2017

LABOUR comfortably retained its seat in yesterday's by-election in Failsworth East with Paul Jean Jacques winning 829 votes (58.3 per cent) beating second place Antony Cahill, of the Conservatives (360 votes, 25.3 per cent) and UKIP's Nicholas Godleman a distant third with 166 votes (11.7 per cent).

The turnout was low ­- not uncommon for a by election ­- at 1,422 or 18.3 per cent.

Polls closed at 10pm after which the votes were counted and verified at Failsworth Town Hall in Oldham Road. The results were announced shortly after 11pm.


The ward was up for grabs after Jim McMahon decided to stand down from his position as a councillor to concentrate on his role as Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton.

Mr McMahon was first elected as a councillor in 2003, aged just 23, and has held the post for 13 years. In 2011 he went on to become the youngest council leader in the country at the age of 30.

Following the death of Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher in October, 2015, Mr McMahon stood in the resulting by-election and won.

His successor Paul Jean Jacques has lived in Failsworth for 35 years and worked as a teacher in Manchester, Rochdale and Tameside. He was an executive headteacher at All Saint Catholic College in Dukinfield and head of the former Stamford High School, now New Charter Academy.

Councillor Jacques said: "I'm delighted. All I would ever want to be able to do is to serve the people of Failsworth as well as Jim McMahon has done. I'm a local candidate and I understand the local issues.

"I'm proud to be an almost adopted Failsworthian. I've been here almost 40 years. I think it's a community that is second to none in terms of strength and character."

He added that he would bring to the council chambers whatever issues the people of Failsworth East will bring to him.


Councillor Jacques will join the other councillors in the ward ­- Norman Briggs and Cherryl Brock, both of the Labour Party.

MP Jim McMahon expressed his happiness at Mr Jacques' victory, having been taught by him at school, and said he will put in the hours to be an "outstanding councillor."

Mr McMahon said: "He's somebody I look up to. It was a difficult decision to stand down in the first place and it's rewarding for someone like Paul to step in."

Nicholas Godleman, from UKIP, believes the party lost partly due to Labour's "dominance" in the area. He also said that Brexit had an impact on the voting, which led to the Tories coming second and UKIP third.

He said: "There was a strong Tory showing. The candidate was local. I'm not from the area.

"Labour has a century of tradition behind them for whatever reason.

"Jim McMahon has cultivated a personality cult. It resonated in giving his successor an easy path in to Oldham Council."

Also present was Ashton and Failsworth MP Angela Rayner, who added: "I think it's a fantastic result for Labour. He was a really good candidate who is part of the community. I think Paul is going to be fantastic for the Failsworth area. He's going to continue to champion for Failsworth East."

Oldham Council leader councillor Jean Stretton said: "It's a fantastic result for Labour. I welcome Paul Jacques as a new Labour councillor for Failsworth East. It's good to see that UKIP were pushed into third place.

"By-election turnouts are always low but in that turnout we clearly convinced the Failsworth electorate that Labour is the best option for Failsworth and the best option for Oldham."

Green Party candidate Andy Hunter-Rossall, a maths teacher in Oldham, said: "We're quite disappointed in the turnout. Most people wouldn't have been engaged. I think there's a lot of work to do."

Coming in last place was Lib-Dem candidate Shaun Duffy, who is currently chairman of Shaw and Crompton Parish Council.

Councillor Duffy was disappointed in the result as his party came in last, managing only 16 votes. He said: "It's a pretty tough time for the liberals at the moment but we're on our way up."


So Jean Stretton was happy to see the Tories finishing above UKIP? Did she congratulate them?
If you put up a tin of beans as a labour candidate in certain areas, people would still vote for it. It has again shown the difficulty of swaying the traditional Labour vote, despite the national party being in absolute chaos and the council squandering our money. The other 4 parties have to do more, if they ever hope to penetrate.
The people of Failsworth East must love those 3 week bin collections..

What a surprise! They should save our money & stop holding these sham elections where everyone knows the outcome.
The people clearly aren't interested in voting, and why would they be? The approval rating of Mr Jacques is a mere 10.7% of the electorate - a shocking figure.

Congratulations to councillor Jacques - you have a hard act to follow in Jim McMahon who was an excellent local councillor.
Memo to the UKIP candidate - try living in the ward you wish to represent, that's why we have councillors, to represent local people's concerns.
Funniest quote of the night from the Lib-Dem who's labouring under the delusion that receiving only 16 votes in the by-election compared to 162 last time the seat was fought means they're "on their way up"!
Dontcha just love em.

18% turnout is pathetic probably caused by apathy towards politics. Nothing to crow about and hardly a landslide.

teddyman -your comments about the residents of Failsworth East are both puerile and insulting. Having been represented by an excellent councillor in Jim McMahon the expectation is Mr. Jacques will continue in the same vein. Failsworth East overwhelmingly voted Labour as they recognise their isn't a viable alternative. The tory's, who've stolen millions of £s from local government? Don't think so. As for 3 week bin collections,what should be cut instead? Childcare? free school meals? Get a grip.

Teddyman32 we live in a democracy

The Lib/Dem. candidate Shaun Duffy achieved a mind blowing 16 votes in the Failsworth by-election. Despite probably getting the lowest vote ever by a mainstream party candidate in an Oldham Council election, he says we are on the way up. When the Lib/Dems took control of Oldham Council in 2000, the Lib/Dems won Failsworth East with 2300 votes. There is a long way to go Cllr Duffy.

Wildy - I'm from Failsworth and all I hear from people are complaints about the bin collections. You ask me what I would cut? How about NOT building a £37m cinema? How about all the executives on £100,000 a year having a pay cut? How about reducing the councillors' ward allowances?

Snowman - I know it's a democracy, and Labour won it fair and square. I actually think Paul Jacques is a decent guy, for what it's worth. It's just this 'I've always voted Labour' attitude that I find strange.

Well said Teddyman, I like your tin of beans idea.

All I can say is the people of Failsworth must like being treated like dirt...to keep electing an uncaring self centered political party such as Labour

You reep what you sow!

18% turnout, what a joke, but not as funny as the Libs,on our way up vote, of 16. But the joke is really on the public, when you consider the money these pollies rake in.

by Wildy When Jim McMahon stood for Royton I didn't see you saying to him, Memo to the Jim McMahon - try living in the ward you wish to represent, that's why we have councillors, to represent local people's concerns.

teddyman - all those people who complain to you about the 3 week bin collections obviously aren't bothered enough to pop down to the polling station to vote against the party who implemented it.

Perhaps they were too busy putting their bins out.


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