Brixworth residents have voted in a Liberal Democrat councillor for the first time, after a shock swing saw the Conservatives lose their safe seat on Daventry District Council.
Jonathan Harris will take his seat as the newly elected ward councillor for the first time on Thursday (July 25) after coming out on top in the Brixworth by-election last Thursday (July 18).
It saw a huge swing of 33 per cent away from the Conservatives towards Mr Harris, who has lived in the Brixworth area for more than 20 years.
Mr Harris won 817 votes compared to the 615 that closest contender Lauryn Harrington-Carter, of the Conservatives, scored. Labour candidate Stuart Coe won 218 votes, 99 fewer than when he last contested the seat in 2016.
Speaking about his victory, Mr Harris said: “I’m absolutely thrilled, and I am honoured to have been elected to represent the people of the Brixworth area.
“I think people voted for me for a range of reasons. One of the overriding factors was that I am local, and people wanted somebody that was going to give them a local voice.
“There was also a lot of Conservative voters who voted on national issues, who clearly weren’t fans of Boris Johnson, and then there were people who voted on a Brexit front. So I think it was a combination of all those things.
“We have had quite a lot of development in Brixworth, we have a solid Neighbourhood Plan, but people are concerned over whether services are keeping up with it.”
The by-election was called after the previous incumbent, Conservative councillor Fabienne Fraser-Allen, was forced to step down last month after failing to attend a meeting in six months. Councillor Fraser-Allen had attended only two of the six full council meetings that were held in 2018/19.
Conservative leader of the council Councillor Chris Millar told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I think there was a national element, and then locally we had a candidate that was living outside the area. She was a new candidate that worked very hard, but we were up against a good local candidate. It also came on the back of our previous councillor not turning up. So well done to the Liberal Democrats, they worked hard and I wish him well.”
Although the result means that the Liberal Democrats will now officially become a party – their sole representative prior to the by-election was Barby and Kilsby councillor Catherine Lomax – the Conservative party will still have a vast majority on the council. There are 29 Tory councillors, with five Labour members joining the duo of Lib Dems in the opposition ranks.
Mr Harris said: “I look forward to holding regular ‘Listening Posts’ to engage with and hear from residents. This result shows that people are looking for an alternative and increasingly they are seeing the Lib Dems as the most viable option.”
Daventry Liberal Democrats local party chairman Rupert Knowle added: “This is a historic result for the Lib Dems and comes after a boost following the European Parliamentary elections where we came second in the district. This is a great result for us just as we have elected a new Liberal Democrat leader too.”