The Liberal Democrats have gained the seat of Middleton Cheney from the Conservatives in a by-election.
Mark Allen has been elected to South Northants Council after gaining 384 votes last week, 44 per cent of those cast. He narrowly saw off the challenge from Tory candidate Alison Eastwood, who received 345 votes.
Adam Sear (Green Party) came third with 89, while Labour’s Arthur Greaves polled last with just 59 votes.
The by-election was sparked Conservative councillor Jonathan Riley resigned. He had only been a councillor for just over a year.
Mr Allen is a resident of the village and is already a parish councillor. He will become the sixth Liberal Democrat member of the council.
He said: “I’m very pleased to have been elected and wish to thank those who voted for me. However, I will be working hard for everyone in my ward, irrespective of who they voted for. I’d also like to thank all those local Lib Dem members who helped in my campaign. We are winning across south Northants and are getting ready for the general election and unitary council campaigns.
“On the doorstep people told me they were appalled at how disastrously the failed Conservatives have been running Northants. The Conservatives have bankrupted our county, resulting in all existing district and borough councils being replaced by two unitary councils in 2021.”
The Conservative leader of South Northants Council, Councillor Ian McCord, said it was ‘disappointing’ for his party to lose a seat, but that it was a wider reflection of the ‘political melee that we are currently in’.
His party will still command a very large majority, and asked whether the county council’s performance had impacted on the vote, he said: “I’m sure there was an element of that without doubt. But he’s been elected to South Northants Council, not the county council.
“It’s difficult, because I think issues can be manufactured when they are not issues that you can attack South Northants Council about. But the Lib Dems are free to run their campaign how they see fit. I think they felt they would walk it when the election was called, but it was only a narrow win for them. It was a narrow win last time for us, and a narrow defeat this time, so it shows that it’s fine margins.”
The margin of victory will not matter to the Lib Dems however, whose leader Councillor Chris Lofts said: “Mark will make an excellent SNC councillor and be an effective voice for his area.
“This election shows the importance of tactical voting. The most effective way to beat the Conservatives here in south Northants, is to vote Liberal Democrat.”