Labour’s wafer thin grip on Cheshire West and Chester Council remains in tact today.
Party candidate Ben Powell cruised to victory in a by-election in Labour stronghold Blacon on Thrusday.
He had a majority of more than 900 over his nearest rival, Conservative Jack Jackson, but only a quarter of the electorate turned out to vote.
Independent candidate Steve Ingram, who campaigned hard on the slate that he was the only candidate who lived in Blacon, was third and Lizzie Jewkes, the Liberal Democrat in the field, came a poor fourth.
The result came in at just after midnight after votes from seven Blacon polling stations were counted at the CWaC HQ in Chester city centre.
Labour took control of CWaC for the first time in elections held on the same day as the General Election in 2015, ousting the controlling Conservative group.
But Labour only has a two seat majority on the local authority and if they had lost yesterday’s Blacon by-election, held following the resignation of Labour veteran Reggie Jones, the party would have been neck and neck with the Tories with the sole Independent on the authority, who represents Parkgate ward, holding the balance of power.
New Labour councillor Ben Powell said: “I’m raring to go and to get to work with the people of Blacon now.”
He pledged to tackle loneliness and isolation within the community and will fight for a new health centre in the area.
Cllr Samantha Dixon, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “I’m really pleased. Ben campaigned incredibly hard and will be a fantastic councillor.”
MP for Chester, Labour’s Chris Matheson, also congratulated Cllr Powell on his victory.
He said: “It’s a sensational result for Labour and for Ben, and a fantastic start to our General Election campaign.
“Some people have been writing off Chester for the Labour Party, saying this is an easy win for the Conservatives but no chance. We are here to fight and the fight starts here.”
Labour Party campaign co-ordinator, Cllr Richard Beacham, in a message of thanks to scores of Party workers, said: “We’ve knocked on more than 6,000 doors, spoken to over 2,000 people, delivered over 15,000 newsletters, election addresses and flyers.”
Successful candidate Ben Powell, of Hartington Street in Handbridge, until 2015 a CWaC member for a ward in Ellesmere Port, said on Twitter: “The Tory leaflet had a personal attack on me for not being from Chester.
“I was born here, I’ve studied here and I’m living here for the second time.”
New and old council: Labour 38, Conservative 36, Independent 1.
Blacon By-election result:
Ben Powell (Lab) 1,556
Jack Jackson (Con) 574
Steve Ingram (Ind) 434
Lizzie Jewkes (Lib Dem) 70.
Turnout: 25.4 per cent