Welwyn Hatfield's Lib Dems taunt Conservatives after Handside by-election triumph

PUBLISHED: 09:12 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 20 December 2017

Councillor Siobhan Elam and other Lib Dems after her by-election success. Picture: Liberal Democats.

Councillor Siobhan Elam and other Lib Dems after her by-election success. Picture: Liberal Democats.

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Welwyn Hatfield's Liberal Democrats have taunted the Conservatives after winning last week's borough council by-election.

Liberal Democrat candidate Siobhan Elam triumphed in the Handside poll with 52 per cent of the vote, beating Conservative hopeful Drew Richardson, Labour’s Belinda Yeldon and The Green Party’s Berenice Dowlen.

Serving Conservative councillors Fiona Thomson and Helen Bromley had previously criticised the £4,000 by-election’s timing just before Christmas, adding it was either political games or ignorance.

They pointed out how, had Ms Basch stepped down three days later, it would have fallen within the ‘six-month rule’ and the seat would have been contested again in May.

Following last week’s success, Liberal Democrat leader Malcolm Cowan said: “This was an election the Conservatives increasingly showed they didn’t want to happen and we can now see why.

“Despite the massive resources they brought in, Handside has spoken loud and clear. On these figures the Conservatives will be out of power in May and the Liberal Democrats will be leading the charge.”

Lib Dem county councillor Nigel Quinton backed “brilliant” Cllr Elam to be a success, but also pointed the finger at the Tories.

“It was rather sad to see the Conservative councillors and their MP complaining about the cost of the by-election – actually about 8p per borough resident,” he said.

“Wasn’t it the Conservative Party that spent £113 million of tax-payers money on an unnecessary and cynical general election in June?”

Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Tory leader John Dean congratulated Cllr Elam on her victory, and praised Conservative candidate Drew Richardson on a “very strong and hard-fought campaign”.

He added: “Whilst we are disappointed in the result, it is important to remember that a by-election called in exceptional circumstances and in the depths of winter does not reflect what happens in larger scale elections.

“The Conservative council has a strong track record, and we are confident that our exceptional candidates, who are already out campaigning, will put forward a strong case to the residents of Welwyn Hatfield for their continued endorsement.”

The Lib Dems also took a swipe at Labour, claiming despite “a big effort, their vote dropped even lower than it was in 2016”.

Labour leader Kieran Thorpe responded: “It’s disingenuous to compare this needless winter by-election to previous springtime elections, but from what I heard on the doorstep from residents, dishonesty comes easily to the Lib Dems.

“We always put in a big effort to give residents a chance to vote for the changes that need to take place in Welwyn Hatfield.”

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