Stalybridge Town Party disbands

STALYBRIDGE Town Party has disbanded after two years in existence.

Lee Stafford, one of the founders, described the decision as amicable, though it makes him “sad”.

“We simply don’t have the resources to fight the bigger parties in what is a Labour stronghold,” he explained.

“It is the cost, both financially and taking time off work, which our members cannot justify.”

The party had a small group of hard-working members but Lee added they needed more numbers if they were to prosper.

Lee, who came within 75 votes of ousting Labour heavyweight Adrian Pearce in Stalybridge North in the 2019 local elections, believes the party made an impact on the local political landscape.

He said: “There are lots of positive things happening in Stalybridge which is back on the map.

“There is the Stalybridge Town Centre Challenge and plans for the market hall.”

Lee added he will not be disappearing completely from local politics.

“I am not going away and will still be digging deep,” he said.

The official statement read: “Stalybridge Town Party was formed by a small group of people who wanted the best for Stalybridge. We wanted to give local people who feel that Tameside Council doesn’t listen to them, a voice and some local representation. We hoped to build the membership and work to get people elected as councillors in each of the Stalybridge wards.

“Whilst we have achieved a degree of success in local elections by challenging established councillors and coming close in terms of the number of votes we got, we have not been able to achieve electoral success.

“It’s hard to challenge established national parties with a just handful of volunteers and no real budget. With only a small membership the party officials have to finance any election campaign.

We had hoped that the party would grow and that more local people would be inspired to join us but sadly this has not happened.

“With all of this in mind, we have reluctantly taken the decision not to stand in the forthcoming council elections and will be winding Stalybridge Town Party down.”

In 2019, Lee claimed 29 per cent of the votes cast in Stalybridge North to finish behind Cllr Pearce, who was up for re-election.

Cllr Pearce admitted being “never so nervous in my life” after clinging on to his seat.

Stalybridge Town Party was also runner-up in Dukinfield/Stalybridge ward, where David McGovern had 680 votes for a 28 per cent share as he challenged Labour’s David Sweeton, a councillor since 2001.

Lee, reflecting at the time on Stalybridge Town Party collecting 1,300 votes in the two wards, said:

“Everyone can analyse the results differently but, considering we have only been a party for about 15 months, it was a tremendous result.

“We don’t have a major support network, but people vote for us rather than the main parties which shows there is an appetite for change.”

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