RESIDENTS’ ‘justified anger’ at Cheshire East over the lived-in housing estate which lost its planning permission was 'probably a significant factor' in Labour losing the Crewe by-election, a councillor said.

Labour’s Connor Naismith, who represents Crewe West, was speaking after the Conservatives snatched the neighbouring Crewe Central seat from Labour yesterday.

Cllr Naismith, who is Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Crewe and Nantwich, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service today: “This is an extremely disappointing result for the local Labour party.

“We’re going to reflect upon it and make sure that we learn from it.”

He said by-elections are intense and the result can be volatile and based on hyper-local factors.

Knutsford Guardian: Coppenhall Place in CreweCoppenhall Place in Crewe (Image: Google)“It’s clear to me that one significant factor was probably residents’ justified anger at Cheshire East over the Coppenhall Place estate planning debacle,” said Cllr Naismith.

“That came up on the doors time and time again around there, but there will be a number of factors and we will consider all of those and make sure that we reflect and learn from those.”

The 263-home occupied Coppenhall Place is in the Crewe Central ward and its planning permission was revoked in 2022 because developer Countryside Partnerships failed to deal with a condition relating to contaminated land.

Cheshire East has been criticised for allowing the estate to be built and occupied and not enforcing the condition.

The matter has still not been resolved.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Connor NaismithCllr Connor Naismith (Image: Cheshire East Council)The Labour councillor congratulated Cllr Roger Morris on his election but then said it was not made clear during the campaign he was a Conservative.

“I think the challenge for him now is to represent the ward in the way that he presented during the campaign, which was not as a Conservative,” said Cllr Naismith, adding Cllr Morris’ leaflet didn’t make it ‘very, very obvious’ he was a Conservative.

“We found no huge support for the Conservative Party amongst residents and many were actually unaware of Cllr Morris’ party affiliation, so I think that’s potentially another factor,” he said.

When asked whether recent budgetary pressures and decisions made by the Labour/Independent controlled Cheshire East Council may have played a part in the result, Cllr Naismith said: “It will inevitably be a factor and it’s not just about the things that are happening in this round of budget decisions.

“Crewe, and particularly Crewe Central, has a lot of really serious issues.

“There are people there with really serious needs that are not being met, housing in terrible conditions, there’s fly-tipping, there’s crime and anti-social behaviour.

“There’s all sorts of long-standing issues that, unfortunately, are the result of 14 years of Conservative cuts to local government, to the extent that Cheshire East and other councils all over the country are not able to deliver the services that people need.

“And we’ve got a Conservative government who are just passing the buck on to local councils and, in some instances, it is local councillors of different political stripes who are paying the price for funding decisions that are not ultimately within their control.

“We have control over the budget but the budget is shrinking year on year.”

Knutsford Guardian: Newly elected councillor Roger MorrisNewly elected councillor Roger Morris (Image: Cheshire East Council)The LDRS contacted Cllr Morris regarding the claims made by Cllr Naismith that some people might not have known they were voting for a Conservative candidate.

Cllr Morris said: “It clearly states at the bottom of every leaflet we did that we were Conservative and it clearly states on the voting paper who they were voting for.”

Meanwhile Putting Crewe First candidate Brian Silvester said his party continued to make progress.

He tweeted his thanks to those who voted for him and said: “Crewe First will continue to work to make Crewe a better place to live and to reverse the sad spiral of decline in the town, brought about by Crewe's Labour councillors and its Tory MP.”

Crewe Central by-election results: Te Ata Browne (Green Party) 12; Kim Jamson (Lab) 277; Roger Morris (Con) 335;  Vicky Pulman (Women’s Equality Party) 22; Brian Silvester (Putting Crewe First, People Before Politics) 128.

Turnout was 16.46 per cent.