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WIGAN: Labour beat independents to gain council seat at by-election

WIGAN: Labour beat independents to gain council seat at by-election

Labour candidate Samuel Flemming celebrates winning the Bryn by-election at Wigan Town Hall. Credit: LDRS. Caption: Joseph Timan.

Labour have gained a council seat in Wigan at a by-election called after an independent councillor who won 67 pc of the vote in May quit weeks later.

Steve Jones, who was re-elected as a councillor for Bryn ward earlier this year announced he would stand down in the summer, before he changed his mind.

However, he was forced to follow through with his resignation nearly three months later due to the threat of a legal challenge by a former political ally.

It comes three years after the same councillor took Wigan council to court because the local authority had called an unlawful by-election for his seat.

Jones backed former councillor Gareth Fairhurst who stood as an independent candidate at this by-election – but he was beaten by another independent.

Alan Richardson, who had the support of Bryn councillor Sylvia Wilkinson, finished second after requesting a recount, having lost out by just 17 votes.

Labour candidate Samuel Flemming received 429 votes, securing a seat for the ruling group at the by-election which had a turnout of only 15.33 pc.

The 19-year-old University of Manchester student is now the youngest Wigan councillor and the first Labour candidate to win in Bryn ward since 2015.

Speaking after the results were declared, he said that winning felt ‘fantastic’.

He said: “We’ve got our first councillor now in Bryn for six years. I’m very pleased. We ran a good campaign and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

The politics and international relations student who lives near Wigan town centre said he will be focusing on improving road safety and green spaces.

Independent candidate Alan Richardson, who received 412 votes to come second, said his campaign focused on putting investment back into Bryn.

The Bryn resident said he intends to stand again at the next election in 2022.

He said: “It was very close between me and Sam. It was a very clean fight.

“There’s always another time. There’s another election coming up in May. I’ll be going for that.

“Hopefully this time we won’t have two independents – there’ll just be the one.”

Former councillor Gareth Fairhurst – who has stood in several council elections, most recently in Shevington with Lower Ground ward – received 353 votes.

The independent candidate refused to comment following the results.

Conservative candidate Paul Martin, who received 142 votes, congratulated the newly-elected Labour councillor as well as the second-place candidate.

He said: “I think the sad thing is that the turnout was extremely poor and I think that that really casts a pall over democracy. But it is what it is.”

Liberal Democrats candidate David Burley came in last place with 38 votes.

Words: Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter

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