A new leader is set to take the helm at a council in Greater Manchester after standing unopposed at a Labor general meeting – despite opposition from his predecessor last week. Coun Ged Cooney served on the Tameside Council Executive under Coun Brenda Warrington, who was elected Chair in January 2018.
But Droylsden West City Council launched a shock bid for the authority’s leadership last month – making its intentions public just weeks before local elections. Coun Warrington hit back on Monday (May 9) with an eye-opening public statement in which she hinted she would fight to stay in the role.
However, the Councilwoman for Denton West told Labor members she would not be contesting Coun Cooney’s bid for leadership on the eve of Tameside Labor’s annual general meeting this morning (15 May). He stood unopposed for appointment as the new leader of Tameside’s Labor group and will hold his first public meeting as leader of the council on May 24.
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Coun Cooney said that Manchester evening news : “The group wanted change. It’s a shame it couldn’t be resolved sooner. Everyone has the right to either oppose others or remain in office. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a democracy.
“Coun Warrington took over when Carillion collapsed and we had a half-built town hall. She’s had to deal with Covid and some very difficult times and she’s done a very good job. It’s just that the group really wanted a change.
“We are moving forward. We’re looking at what we’re doing and can we change that – and I believe changes can be made in that sense. I’m glad the group thinks I’m capable of it. Let’s hope we can make the changes that the people of Tameside want.”
Coun Warrington remained silent ahead of the local elections but finally hit back at Coun Cooney’s challenge last week. In a glowing statement, she said, “Ged Cooney has been my right-hand man ever since he talked me into standing as leader … I had always thought we could trust each other.”
The statement indicated she would seek to retain her position, as Coun Warrington added: “The challenges Tameside faces ahead are significant, what is important is stability to keep confidence in the administration. That’s mine single focus.”
In a statement sent to Labor members ahead of the AGM – seen by the MEN – Coun Warrington insisted the group must “come together in the interests of our residents” before confirming she would not oppose Coun Cooney. The leadership challenge is understood to follow Labor members’ concerns about Coun Warrington’s leadership style, the regeneration of Ashton town center and the highly controversial Godley Green Garden Village plans.
She defended her record in last week’s public statement, expressing how she “successfully led Tameside through numerous major, unprecedented challenges”. Despite the cloud of leadership challenge hanging over the party, the results of this month’s local elections were hailed by Coun Warrington as “a good night for Labour”, with the party retaining all but two seats.
These were lost to the Conservatives, including in the Parish of Hyde Godley, where Godley Green was a key campaign issue for new councilor Andrea Colbourne. Tory Group Leader Coun Doreen Dickinson was “delighted” with the gains, adding: “I’d rather have 27 seats instead of seven, but it’s a marathon not a sprint. You can definitely build on that.”
Coun Warrington was contacted for comment.
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