The Liberal Democrats are celebrating a stunning result in Manchester as John Leech stormed to the top of the ballot on the 20th anniversary of his public service in the city.
Elected alongside him was longtime campaigner Richard Kilpatrick, doubling the Liberal Democrat presence on Manchester Council.
Despite Labour flooding the seat with over 120 activists including council leader Richard Leese, the Liberal Democrats have pulled off a double shock victory, snatching two seats in the Labour heartlands of Manchester.
John Leech, who celebrates 20 years in public service this year, said:
“I am delighted to be re-elected but also welcome Richard alongside me - this is an enormous step forward for the Liberal Democrats in Manchester.
“In 1998 when I was first elected, I promised not to give up on the residents of Manchester, and I’m never breaking that promise.
“It has been an honour to serve the people of Manchester for the last 20 years and I want to thank everyone who supported our ‘Manchester Together’ campaign - this is just the beginning.
“I will continue to fight for south Manchester as I always have done and I couldn’t be happier to welcome another hardworking Liberal Democrat alongside me.
“I know there are people here in Manchester who feel like this council has let them down on affordable housing, on homelessness, on our moral duty in the world, and for as long as Labour are letting them down, the Liberal Democrats will be here fighting for change.
“Labour poured over 120 activists, including the council leader, into our area in a bleak demonstration of their commitment to absolute control, and I couldn't be happier and more grateful that local people placed their trust in us."
Newly elected 26-year-old Richard Kilpatrick said:
“I want to thank everyone who supported our ‘Manchester Together’ campaign this year. We set out a vision that we believed in and I am so grateful that local residents here put their trust in us.
“It’s a vision that ends the injustice of people sleeping on our streets, the abhorrent rejection of refugees and unfair tax increases for the least well off. It’s a vision that brings this city together and day one starts today.
"Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us, we will not let you down."
Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats personally commended John Leech and Richard Kilpatrick, praising a fantastic campaign:
“John Leech has been an incredible voice for the people of Manchester and I am ecstatic that the fantastic campaign in Manchester has paid off. I’m so proud to welcome John back, alongside a new gain with Richard Kilpatrick who will join the countless others we have gained across the country today.
“I also want to congratulate John Leech on celebrating his unparalleled 20 years in public service. His extraordinary dedication to Manchester and its residents is exactly what the Liberal Democrats stand for, and I am without any doubt that his fierce passion isn’t going anywhere any time soon.”