Trafford will go to the polls tomorrow with all 63 seats up for grabs triggered by recent boundary changes meaning this is the council’s first all-out election since 2004.
This year all voters will be given three opportunities to support their local Labour candidates but, with one other significant difference, photo ID must be shown to vote in person.
Ahead of the election, the council’s Labour leader and deputy, Cllrs Tom Ross and Catherine Hynes, were quizzed on topics ranging from their first introduction to politics; changes to the political landscape and reasons behind it; to how they plan to support every person in the borough.
Tom, who was first introduced to politics as a teenager, is certainly no stranger to the political arena after joining the Party in 1996, he was elected to represent Stretford ward in 2008 – proudly served as Mayor in 2018/19 – and took on his new role in January 2023.
Cath, who also holds the council’s role as Executive Member for Children’s Services – and like her colleague – began her political career as a teenage campaigner following in the footsteps of both her parents.
She has also represented the residents of Urmston as a councillor for more than a decade.
Q) What inspired you both to get involved in local politics at a young age, Tom?
I wanted to make a difference to people’s lives- so I joined the Labour Party at a time it felt like change was coming.
Since becoming a Labour Party member I’ve been very fortunate to have such amazing support from other members, who encouraged me to stand as a candidate, be a local councillor and help me reach where I am today.
Q) And what about you, Cath?
It was slightly different for me- I grew up during the Thatcher era and witnessed so many young people become disenfranchised with politics.
There were high levels of youth unemployment resulting in a lot of anger – I could really see a sense of injustice – and that inspired me to start on my political journey.
Q) Tom you were first elected in 2008 and Cath you were elected in 2012. How did you find the first few years of being local councillors.
I really enjoyed being active in the local community, Tom said, however it became increasingly frustrating to see a Conservative Council in Trafford defending the austerity measures stripping millions from our budget.
Cath added that this was the beginning of the closure of Sure Start, and the chronic under investment of other important services provided by the council.
Q) What other policies did the previous Conservative Council in Trafford introduce?
Cath explained that the Tories outsourced operational services without any performance management; and local residents were hit with an additional green waste collection charge that became known as the green bin tax.
Q) And what were your observations from the time, Tom?
It felt like those in power were not listening – and were completely oblivious to what was happening, and it was as though public opinion really didn’t matter. I feel residents began to notice this.
Q) What finally tipped the political balance in Labour’s favour?
That came after the threat to build hundreds of homes on the former William Roe Golf Course – and football training facilities at Turn Moss – causing an angry backlash as hundreds of residents voiced their opposition to the plans, explained Cath.
Residents put their trust in Trafford Labour in 2018 and it has been a privilege to run the council since then, Tom added.
Q) What are Labour’s future plans for the borough, Tom?
My first responsibility is to build on the significant improvements to Children’s Services and to pledge further funding which will bring investment to almost £50m, this year.
In addition to this, millions will be invested into the regeneration of our town centres with additional funding to make major improvements to highways.
Labour’s plans to massively rejuvenate leisure centres and build good quality affordable homes are also well under way.
Funding will not be skewed away from boosting services despite central government cutting hundreds of millions from the council’s Budget.
I very much hope that the residents of Trafford continue to put their trust in Labour as we go to the polls tomorrow.
To read the Trafford Labour 2023 manifesto visit: https://qr.page/g/If01AnLdwT