Tories hold St Helens

THE Conservative party triumphed in the St Helens by-election but Labour supporters were all smiles after a swing in their favour.

Councillor Keith Bing decided to step down on health grounds in October triggering yesterday's vote.

And despite concerns over how many people would turnout for a mid-winter by-election, 1504 people or 37.5 per cent of those eligible cast their votes.

Simon Corello held the seat for the Conservatives, winning 609 votes, or 40 per cent.

His victory re-established the two-member majority the Tories enjoyed over the Labour party before Cllr Bing's resignation.

Cllr Corello said: "I would like to thank everybody who managed to vote today. Apathy is the enemy of everyone.

"The people of St Helens have been able to choose who they trust to run the Borough Council.

"This skirmish in St Helens has been won, let the battle of Hastings now commence."

Labour candidate Michael Ward received 550 votes, 36.5 per cent of the total.

This represents a 15 point swing from the last St Helens Ward election in 2008, but Cllr Corello seemed unconcerned.

"The Conservatives are in control of the Borough Council and is there is always a protest vote in by-elections," he said.

"We have won and that is the important thing."

But Mr Ward said: "It shows that where people pull together and work hard it is surprising what results they can get.

"We had an excellent team working extremely hard and it shows the support for Labour and for Michael Foster in this ward."

And other senior Labour members were equally delighted, with Michael Foster MP describing the result as "quite remarkable."

John Tunbridge of the Liberal Democrats came in third, with 210 votes, 14 per cent, the British National Party candidate Stephen Weir won 93 votes, or 6 per cent and Rod Bridger of the English Democrats polled 36 votes, 2 per cent of the total.

Six ballots were rejected.

All eyes will now turn to next year's borough council elections in May, and the General Election, which must be held before June.

What does this mean for local politcs? Why did this by-election appear to buck the national trend? Leave your comments below.