Friday, December 8, 2023

Labour Win Council Elections

Photo by Paul Jones

In a stunning turn of political feeling in the town, decades of electing Conservative councillors has been ended with Belper North and Belper Central both choosing Labour candidates, Ben Bellamy and Maurice Neville respectively.

Ben Bellamy takes the seat previously held by Alan Cox (Leader of the Council) for 17 years, and Maurice Neville replaces John Nelson, who was first elected in 1988.

The Labour Party were just 14 votes shy of turning the council red with a Labour majority but as the council is bizarrely elected in staggered sections, it is possible that Labour will gain council majority when Belper South and Belper East vote in 2018.

Belper has long been a safe bet for Conservative rule, with a Conservative MP and long standing Conservative councillors, and this election reveals a shift in the sensibilities of the town.  Belper is no longer content to keep voting Conservative and staying the same.

The choices of the Conservative Party on a national level no doubt have a part to play in explaining the shift, as moves against teachers, doctors, the NHS, the poor and the disabled all matter on a local level as well as a national one.  The fact that we have food bank collection boxes in the supermarket and that people have donated truck loads of provisions for refugees shows that the town cares about people and fairness and clearly this is a message to government that enough is enough.

Local issues – like the rot of the River Garden Tea Rooms, the decline of the mills, the end to local renewable energy plans, potholed roads, the waste of money purchasing unused urban land, reduction of bus services, the end of disabled transport, fracking licences being granted in the Amber Valley, the threat of Belper School becoming an Academy governed by moneymen, excluding parents from school governance, reduction of school staff, the sale of Babington Hospital, the fact that our MP Pauline Latham persistently votes against our interests and beliefs, that our MP Nigel Mills plays Candy Crush in meetings and used Battlebuses , and building issues – will also have played a large part in creating enough dissatisfaction to shift the politics of Belper firmly to the left.

Ben Bellamy and Maurice Neville have pledged to focus on affordable housing in the right locations and quantity, to sort out the River Garden Tea Rooms, to improve sports and leisure facilities and improve public toilet facilities in the town. You can read the election piece they wrote for Nailed here. Maurice Neville is also an active member of the local fight to protect the NHS, which he has written about for Nailed here.

In response to their wins, Ben told us,  “I’m humbled by the amazing support that we have been given. The resurgence of our party under Jeremy Corbyn gives us great energy and hope for the future. Even though we have lost out on taking control of the borough, by just 16 votes in Ironville, it is gratifying to know that we are now just one seat away. I think our positive campaign resonated with people and the Conservatives’ negative campaign, which concentrated on unsubstantiated scaremongering, backfired. Mr Cox has ruled incompetently for too long, and millions of pounds have been wasted. I wish him a long retirement. I only hope that in two years time we regain control of the borough, so that if the tea rooms are still derelict and the toilets closed, and the mill still crumbling then we can do something about it. I was disappointed that the green party campaigned in a slightly deceitful way, and hope that they will reflect on the fact that had they not stood in seats such as ironville, with no campaign, no leaflets and no chance of winning then we may not now still be living under a conservative council.”  Maurice succinctly stated,  “Belper has shown its socialist heart.”

They have also invited the people of Belper to tell them what they think Amber Valley Borough Council should be doing for a “Better Belper”.  If you are in Belper Central then you can email Maurice at   If you are in Belper North then you can email Ben at

As far as the other parties are concerned, the other councillors for Belper are all Conservative except for Labour’s Eric Johnson in Belper South, and the Green Party had a good showing with 18% of the vote and did twice as well in Belper North as Central. The less popular parties had very low votes, which can be found on the results page.

Turnout was shamefully low at 44.5% for Central (1819 voters), 48% for North (1740 voters).  Your councillors were chosen by 3559 people. Approximately 7875 people are registered to vote in these wards, which is probably not the full number of those who are eligible.  The next vote is on Thursday 23rd June and is for the EU referendum.  Nailed will be running articles to help the electorate to understand the issues and consequences of this vote.  If you aren’t registered to vote,  please register in time for that referendum.  The deadline for registration is 7th June.  You can register here. 

Clare Washbrook

Current Editor-in-Chief News and magazine editor since 1995 Post-grads: Literature; Theatre; Journalism, Ethics & Law Community Affiliations: Belper Goes Green, Belper's WW1 Poppies, Amber Valley Solidarity No political party memberships/affiliations.

8 thoughts on “Labour Win Council Elections

  • Chris Copeland

    Great result. They both worked very hard to achieve it. They did visit every house in their constituencies.
    Perceptive comments in the report.

  • Sandra Devine

    A great result for Labour and hopefully for Belper if they achieve what they say they will. Very sad to see that Mr. Bellamy isn’t gracious in victory and has to have a dig at another party. No party has a right to votes and every party has a right to stand. I think he should credit voters with enough intelligence to vote for the party that suits them best. I think it is about time the Labour Party accepts the fact that voters who wish to vote Labour will do so, and those that don’t should have the opportunity to vote for parties who offer something different. However, let me end my comment on a positive note and say that I look forward to seeing the two new councillors working for Belper and making a difference.

  • Lian Pizzey

    Labour’s victory of the two Belper seats is impressive but yet again they grouch that every election is them versus the conservatives and everybody else should get out of the way.

    Has it not occurred to Ben Bellamy that many people want neither the Conservatives or Labour?

  • Sue MacFarlane

    Firstly, congratulations to Ben Bellamy and Maurice Neville. Labour, Conservatives and the Greens campaigned hard in the town, as is shown in the highest turnouts for the borough – and Labour won the seats.

    I agree that there is a change of mood in the town, mainly due to a backlash from Conservative policies on a national level. I also agree with Ben that the Labour victories in Belper North and Central owe something to the resurgence of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

    As for Ben’s comments about the Green Party meaning that Labour do not now control Amber Valley Borough Council, I have this to say. Of the 1540 people who voted in Ironbridge and Riddings, the majority – 924 – did not vote Labour. Of this 924, only 37 voted for the Green Party. If Ben wants to continue to blame the Greens for the lack of 14 votes in an area where the majority of people did not vote Labour, that’s his choice. Votes don’t belong to any particular party. They are not to be given away as if they are owned. No-one, including Ben, can say what would have happened in that ward had the Greens not stood a candidate there. Democracy means that anyone can stand for public office, and the people can decide who serves them.

    The ‘slightly deceitful’ comment Ben makes about the Greens is interesting. Is there such a thing as ‘slightly deceitful’? If Ben thinks any part of our campaign was deceitful, he is at liberty to take this up with the people who oversee these things – instead of continuing to bad mouth the Green Party at every opportunity.

    I understand the disappointment at not gaining control of Amber Valley Borough Council. I understand the desire to find someone else to blame for this. I understand the need to get in early with excuses for any election promises Labour made this time that may not be kept. But to constantly moan that Labour did not win somewhere because another party stood is anti-democratic. Elections are to be won, and that is what Labour have done in Belper.

    To be gracious in defeat is sometimes difficult, but it should at least be possible to be gracious in victory. Labour have won in Belper, it is now time for them to serve the people who did – and did not – vote for them. I wish Ben and Maurice well in their term as councillors in Amber Valley.

    Sue MacFarlane, Green Party candidate for Belper North in the Amber Valley Borough Council election.

  • Richard Ross

    Whilst I would much rather see a Labour than a Tory council, I do think Labour need to learn to be gracious in victory.

  • Paul Linford

    Labour deservedly won two seats in Belper owing to a variety of local issues which Clare correctly identifies in the 6th par. But for Ben to credit it to Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘leadership’ and for Maurice to talk about Belper’s ‘socialist heart’ is overstating the case somewhat!

  • Ben Bellamy

    Sue et al. Apologies for not being more gracious in the result, perhaps I should have just had this discussion in person . As I have said, in person before, I believe passionately in the right for people to stand for or vote for whatever they believe in. What I am less comfortable with is the idea of standing just to get on the ballot, with no campaign, no leaflets and no canvassing. We will obviously never know if a lack of green on the paper would have sent 15 votes our way or not.We will probably have to disagree on that point. You certainly did not do that in North, and achieved again exactly the 17% you achieved last time, and clearly put a lot of hard work into north.

    You clearly don’t understand what I personally thought was deceitful, so I would rather discuss that face to face than on a public forum.

    Elections are, due to their nature, a race and a battle of ideas. However it is important to be able to separate political from personal, and to recognise that where we have differences, we also have common ground.

    Best, Ben

  • “I believe passionately in the right for people to stand for or vote for whatever they believe in. What I am less comfortable with is the idea of standing just to get on the ballot, with no campaign, no leaflets and no canvassing.”
    I agree that people should have the right to cast their vote as they wish, but also believe that in a democracy all should have the right to stand for election, maximising the choice available to the voters, regardless of whether those standing have the resources to print leaflets or the people to knock on doors. The Labour Party themselves were only able to stand 15 candidates in the 1900 election, the first in which they stood. Barring smaller parties from standing in certain areas because they lack the resources to campaign there would hardly be supporting the right for people to freely vote for what they believe in.

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