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Tories take Gravesham East from Labour in by-election

PUBLISHED: 13:47 19 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:35 23 August 2016

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Conservative leader 'delighted' with the result

There was more bad news for the Labour Party this morning as the Conservatives took Gravesham East in a Kent County Council by-election.

Tory candidate Diane Marsh won with 1,758 votes to Lyn Milner’s 1,538, representing a 36 per cent share of the vote on a 16.38 per cent turnout.

The result comes shortly after the Labour Party lost a seat on Ashford Council to Ukip.

But there was better news for Labour in the Pelham by-election to Gravesham Borough Council, with Labour’s Jenny Wallace retaining the seat left vacant following the death of Jane Cribbon.

She secured 494 votes - 169 more than the Conservatives’ Conrad Broadley.

Commenting on the Gravesham East result, KCC’s Conservative leader Paul Carter, said: “I am absolutely delighted. The whole team worked exceedingly hard and got the result they earned.

“It was regarded as a very safe Labour seat and the result reflects on Theresa May making a good start in government.”

Mr Carter added that Labour’s national leadership did not help their situation, and that, in contrast to Labour’s infighting, the Conservatives had shown it was possible to have a quick and efficient change at the top of the party.

“I am really optimistic for the future of local government,” he added.

“The previous administration did not have a lot of trust in local government, but the new team will reflect on the strengths of local government.”

KCC’s Labour leader, Gordon Cowan, commented: “Obviously we are disappointed that we lost the seat. We would have hoped to have held onto it.”

Mr Cowan did not blame Labour’s national leadership for the loss, however, believing it was more to do with a low voter turnout during the holiday period.

“Labour has its problems, but I do not think the result was based on that,” he said.

“Lots of people, including many working-class families, are on holiday.

“In general, we would have had a much higher turnout and we would have got the result we deserved.

“I am confident that in eight months time we will have that seat back.

“I am delighted that we held on to the borough seat in Pelham.”

He added that Ukip would be particularly disappointed, as they had hoped to win in Labour’s heartlands but came fourth in Pelham.

Ukip’s Gravesham secretary Dr Ryan Waters commented: “Mr Cowan fails to acknowledge that the UKIP candidate for Gravesham East, Tina Brooker, not only increased our vote share but came a close third - 266 votes behind Labours second.

“The people on well-earned holidays aren’t all Labour voters, so its odd how Mr Cowan thinks this is the reason for the loss.”

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