WORCESTER’s Liberal Democrats will return to the council chamber at the Guildhall after a four-year absence after Coun Mel Allcott won the Claines by-election.
The party secured victory in their former city stronghold by just 56 votes as Coun Allcott became the 12th female city councillor, meaning almost a third of city council members are women.
She topped the poll with 1,307 votes, well ahead of the totals she secured when finishing second to the Tories in both the 2018 poll and May’s election.
Conservative challenger Jules Benham came second with 1,251 votes in her bid to retain the seat for the Tories following the death of former city councillor Stuart Denlegh-Maxwell.
The Green Party saw their share of the vote almost halve from May’s elections as Stephen Dent polled 125 votes to finish third while Labour’s Saiful Islam collected just 60 votes.
Victory sees the Liberal Democrats regain one of the three seats in Claines. The party held all the seats in the area until 2012 when an electoral takeover by the Conservatives began.
By 2015, the party had been wiped of the Worcester electoral map and Coun Allcott’s bid for glory was her sixth attempt to win the Claines seat.
She lost May’s election by 95 votes and came to within 62 votes of winning the election for the seat in 2018.
Speaking after her election, Coun Allcott told the Observer: “I’m just delighted and I cannot wait to get stuck in to working for Claines and for Worcester as a city.”
“It’s been a long time coming and we have put in a lot of hard work. I think it proves hard work and determination pays off.
“The last two elections were very close and because of the size of the two parties it feels like more of an achievement as well.
“It was a tough time for us as a party after the coalition Government but I feel we are back on the map now,” she added.
The result leaves the Conservatives with 16 councillors, Labour with 15, the Green Party with three and Coun Allcott as the Liberal Democrats representative.
Conservative leader Coun Marc Bayliss said: “Firstly congratulations to Melanie Allcott, she’s been a long-standing candidate in Claines and I welcome her and congratulate her on the victory.
“I think we did quite well, our share of the vote went up since May – 44 per cent then, 46 per cent in this election.
“What happened was a collapse in the Labour and Green vote which went almost entirely to the Liberal Democrats.
“Unfortunately it was enough to knock us off and finish a very close second but I think we will live to fight another day in Claines,” he added.