Labour took the St James seat in the Northampton Borough Council by-election last night with the Tories beaten into fourth place.
Rufia Ashraf, of Warren Road, received 307 votes to win the seat which was previously held by former leader of the Labour group, Councillor Terry Wire, who died after a long battle against cancer in May.
Jill Hope came second for the Lib Dems, with 262 votes, and UKIP’s John Howsam in third place with 201 votes.
In fourth place was Andrew Kilbride, who was representing the Conservative administration on the borough council, who recorded 198 votes.
The turnout was 29.93 percent.
Councillor Les Marriott, Labour Group Leader, said: “This is great news for the people of Northampton and I welcome Rufia Ashraf as a councillor. She was born in St. James, she has worked in St. James as a community activist and for a long time has been listening to the views of local residents. I know she can’t wait to start working with the community and representing their interests and views at the Guildhall. She will be a fantastic asset to our team.”
Newly elected Labour councillor, Rufia Ashraf, said: “I am honoured to be elected as the Labour councillor for St. James. It is a privilege to be following the late Terry Wire. The people of St. James have made clear the scale of the problems the local area faces like traffic congestion, too many houses of multiple occupancy and general neglect of the environment. The real work starts now to tackle the problems residents talked about on the doors.”
Lib Dem candidate Jill Hope said: “I want to say a sincere thank you to the residents of St. James for the incredible support I’ve had over the last year since being elected as county councillor for Sixfields, and in the last few weeks during this campaign. It is a pleasure to work with the local community to make the area the best it can be – and I look forward to continuing to do so as your county councillor.
“I hope that the Conservative party will see their vote in this election as what it is – a damming indictment of their management of St. James and of our town. Despite their claims, traffic and parking problems here are not “trivial”. Drains being left blocked is dangerous – the area is prone to flood. It’s not okay that it took residents three years to get a drop kerb installed, or abandoned buildings boarded up. It’s not alright either that you’re wasting millions of pounds wrecking the town centre for the future, or that the town’s roads resemble the surface of the moon.”
A spokesman for the St James Residents’ Association contragulaated Ms Ashraf on winning the election.
“We also offer our commiserations to the other candidates and thank them for taking part in a hard fought campaign.
“St. James can now move forward with full representation once again, following Terry Wire’s long battle with cancer. We hope Rufia can build on Terry’s legacy and continue working whole heartedly for the residents and businesses of St James.
“The SJRA, will work pro-actively with our new councillor and hold her to account for the residents of our area to ensure we get the best possible representation.
“We believe St. James now has some of the hardest working councillors in the town with Jill Hope (LIB DEM), Gareth Eales (LAB) and now Rufia Ashraf. A formidable team, whom we hope will continue to work together for the benefit of the area they represent.
“We will give Rufia a few days to settle in before we commence the hard work of planning for a better, brighter St James.”
The next open residents’ meeting of the SJRA takes place on Thursday July 17 at 7pm at the Doddridge Centre.