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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Labour hold onto seats in by-election

LABOUR held both seats in the Carlisle City Council by-election in Upperby on Thursday, making it the largest party on the hung council.

But the Conservatives remain in control at the Civic Centre with the support of the Liberal Democrats.

And the Tories are jubilant at seeing an eight per swing in their favour, enough to deliver a Conservative MP if repeated at the next General Election.

Labour’s Donald Cape and Ann Warwick topped the poll with 595 and 515 votes respectively, ahead of Liberal Democrat James Osler on 428.

The council’s leader, Conservative Mike Mitchelson, said: “This should be a worrying result for Labour.“Their share of the vote dropped while ours increased. It’s a demonstration of a loss of confidence in Labour. “If we see a similar swing in the general election then the parliamentary seat would change hands.”

Labour MP Eric Martlew had a majority of 5,695 at the last election in 2005.

Boundary changes since then have made the seat more marginal and the Conservatives now need only a 5.3 per cent swing to win.

Carlisle last had a Conservative MP in 1964 but the Tories would almost certainly have won in 1983 and 1987, and possibly 1992, had the elections been fought on the current constituency boundaries.

A total of 1,479 people voted in Upperby on Thursday, a turnout of 36.1 per cent.

The ward should have voted with the rest of the city on May 1 but the death of the British National Party candidate during the campaign caused the election to be postponed. Labour councillor June Martlew died soon after, creating a second vacancy.

Labour group leader Michael Boaden was delighted with the outcome, especially as his party is trailing in the national opinion polls.

He said: “Our candidates and the rest of the Labour team worked very hard to achieve this result. It is an excellent result considering the political climate that we are in.“We are once against the largest party [on the city council] and that is very important. We will use it as a platform to challenge the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.”

The result gives Labour 23 councillors, two more than the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats have seven and there is one Independent.

Full result: Donald Cape (Labour), 595 – ELECTED; Ann Warwick (Labour), 515 – ELECTED; James Osler (Liberal Democrat), 428; Georgina Clarke (Conservative), 346; Brian Allan (BNP), 321; Alistair Barbour (BNP), 278; Gareth Ellis (Conservative), 275. Turnout 36.1 per cent.

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