By-election victory joy for Labour

Coun Peter Hunter (second from right) celebrates with Labour colleagues after retaining the seat in Highfield ward

Coun Peter Hunter (second from right) celebrates with Labour colleagues after retaining the seat in Highfield ward

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Victorious Labour candidate Peter Hunter has pledged to “put residents first” following his election victory last night.

The newly-elected Coun Hunter beat Tory rival Sue Ridyard by a majority of 130 to retain for his party the seat in Blackpool Council’s Highfield Ward.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of Labour’s Chris Maughan, who stepped down to take up a new job in Leicestershire.

Coun Hunter said the result signalled confidence from the electorate in the leadership of Coun Simon Blackburn, who has recently come under fire over the poorly attended Illuminations Switch-On event.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives said lessons needed to be learned after the party lost votes to UKIP.

Speaking to The Gazette after his victory, Coun Hunter said: “As far as I’m concerned I stood on a platform of putting residents first.

“The issues affecting residents should be the issues that we take on board.

“The result signals two things.

“Firstly, confidence in Blackpool under the leadership of Simon Blackburn.

“Secondly, at national level it shows the people of Blackpool are sick to death of the Tory Government.”

Coun Hunter polled 558 votes compared to Sue Ridyard’s 388.

UKIP’s Stephen Flanigan came third with 324 votes, while Liberal Democrat Bill Greene (59 votes) was beaten into fifth by Independent Robert Mottershead (90 votes).

Green candidate Shereen Redman (37 votes) finished sixth, while Independent Chris Maher polled eight votes.

Labour’s Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden was on hand to support Coun Hunter at the count.

He said: “We fought a strong campaign on national issues and local ones.

“You always fight every campaign to win and take noting for granted, but this is tribute to the strength of our candidate.”

Turnout in the ward was 26.99 per cent, with 1,430 of 5,298 registered voters casting their ballot.

The Conservative group leader on the council, Coun Tony Williams, said: “I think we ran a great campaign, but it’s evident that we did lose some votes to UKIP and that’s something we’ll learn from.”