BOLTON’S two newly elected UKIP councillors — the first in Greater Manchester — will be the first of many according to the party’s leader Nigel Farage.
Paul Richardson was elected councillor in Little Lever and Darcy Lever, taking over Labour’s Maureen Connell, while Diane Parkinson scooped victory in Hulton over the Conservative deputy leader Andy Morgan.
At a tense count at Bolton Arena on Thursday night, UKIP campaigners celebrated as they rocketed to second place in other key Labour strongholds, including Kearsley, Tonge with the Haulgh and Farnworth.
Speaking to The Bolton News after Thursday’s election shock Mr Farage said the party has made significant dents by taking away votes from the mainstream parties.
He added: “These two seats in Bolton are our first in Greater Manchester but I have no doubt they will not be the last.
"We represent the views of ordinary people who have been neglected and ignored by Labour and the Conservatives, as these two results demonstrate.
“It is also significant that in many wards we came second and next time round we would expect to win those seats too.
"Labour has been complacent and is now paying the price, including in northern towns and cities in their traditional heartland.”
Grandfather-of-17 and retired musician Mr Richardson, aged 68, said he and Ms Parkinson were committed to improving the whole of Bolton for its residents — and using their new-found positions to launch UKIP’s bid for a parliamentary seat in Bolton in 2015.
He added: “There’s only two of us — but it’s not impossible to raise some of the other parties from their slumber and shake things up.
“It’s not comfortable any more. Where they were previously rearranging the deckchairs on the Titantic every few years — the frustrated, silent majority have come out to vote for us.
“Labour’s strategy during the elections was to ignore us, thinking ‘they will go away’. That was a big mistake.”
The pair has identified town centre regeneration, more parking provision and fair distribution of area forum money as their top priorities.
But they did not rule out joining forces with members of the other parties on these issues.
Mrs Parkinson, a mother-of-two who works in credit control, said: “We want to work towards increasing the types of shops that are in the town centre, beyond pawn and charity shops.
“We want to give the public more of a say — by being more available than other councillors, and help them when they want change.”
Mr Farage has now confirmed that he will stand for as a candidate in the next general election, probably in Kent.