As Labour sweep into control across Oldham, the borough welcomes in the country’s youngest council leader.
The Metropolitan Borough of Oldham had sat on a knife-edge of 27 seats each to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, but Labour gained seven wards on the night, four from the Lib Dems.
Jim McMahon, just 30 and now Labour leader of the council, maintained his Failsworth East ward with a comfortable win, securing 1925 votes – the closest competitor being the Tories’ 674.
Speaking of his new position, Mr McMahon said: "I feel quite humbled. I didn't start out on a political career to control Oldham council, I started out to make a difference and the more work we've done the more I've realised you need to be batting at a senior level.
“I just see it as a way of doing a better job for people in my own ward and the borough as a whole.”
And he refused to sit back and just enjoy his party’s new-found control over the borough.
"It's not about who owns Oldham council. There's been an image of arrogance in the past about the council and it's time for some humility and to actually listen to people,” he declared.
Previous Lib Dem council leader Howard Sykes appeared to fear the worst early on in the evening, as he told MM that Mr McMahon was ‘right to be confident’, while chewing gum at 1000rpm.
The Lib Dems lost six of the nine wards they stood for, echoing the poor performance throughout the Greater Manchester area, and the country as a whole.
But Mr Sykes was keen to dismiss claims that tonight was a ‘white-wash’ or anything similar for his party.
“We’ve not had a wipe-out or a melt down, we’ve had a bad set of results, we value our colleagues and that’s what is disappointing,” he said.
“Previously, we’ve been the benefactors of unpopular decisions the national government has made - this time we’re on the receiving end of it.”
Mark Alcock, Lib Dem councillor for Shaw and one of their few successes for the evening, said of his victory in what was accused by the government of being ‘the worst council in the country’: “I’m really pleased and I’m proud that the people of Shaw have put trust in us, we’ve just done four years for them I’ve worked hard for the area.
“A lot of people have gone out and voted us for us today – they’ve given us four years of their time and now I’m going to give him them four years of my time.”
One of the closer contested results of the evening involved independent candidate Ken Hulme, who wore sunglasses throughout the night, and had glory snatched from him at the last moment.
Early reports indicated that the man renowned for his ‘outrageous’ number of Freedom of Information Act requests was set to steal Saddleworth North from Lib Dem candidate Derek Heffernan.
Mr Hulme refused to count his chickens, insisting that he was ‘not completely confident’, and this proved to be a fortuitous stance as Mr Heffernan managed to hold onto the ward by mere 17 votes.
Mr Heffernan said: "I'm obviously extremely relieved, but overall I'm very sad that I've lost so many great colleagues – they all work so hard and are good honest people.
“We have had a bad result here today, but it's not a disaster. We've got to reflect on this and not make any rash decisions."
But Labour MP Debbie Abrehams summed up her party’s joy at their performance in the borough: "What a fantastic night, we've all worked so hard especially in the by-election and we're lucky to have a very dynamic leader in Jim who's made his presence felt throughout."
The results were one of the latest in the Greater Manchester area, with the final ward not being announced until around 05:30am.
Returning officer Charlie Parker announced that the count was held up by AV votes, and wards who were ahead of the game were told to pitch in and help out.