Published: 09:59, 16 November 2018
| Updated: 12:42, 16 November 2018
The Conservatives have held the Canterbury North division following a by-election - with Labour pushed into third.
Robert Thomas, who is also a city councillor, picked up 42% of the votes to take the seat, which was left vacant following the sad death of John Simmonds in August.
Labour candidate Ben Hickman was tipped to run the Tories close, but his 660 votes were only good enough for third.
Lib Dem Alex Lister polled second with 756, with little between those in fourth to sixth: Henry Stanton (Green), Joe Egerton (Ind) and Joe Simons (Ukip), who picked up 157, 155 and 120 votes respectively.
Despite the Tory hold, ex-Conservative Joe Egerton says the 42% share of the vote, down from 55% last year, is “bad news” for the party.
However, with all of the uncertainty at No.10, the Tories have kept their seat with ease.
Newly-elected Cllr Thomas said: "There was clearly a lot going on nationally yesterday but that doesn't seem to have translated into the election."
"It is absolutely fantastic that the voters of Canterbury North have put their trust in me.
"I've been working hard in particular since 2011 in my time on the [city] council, but I'm not just about politics, I volunteer for the local RSPCA and Active Life and I think people recognise the hard work I do put in, and that's exactly what I'm going to be doing going forward," the 36-year-old finance manager, who works at Chaucer College, continued.
Hopes that a surge in student voter registrations could cause a shock result were dashed when turnout at Senate House, the polling station for University of Kent halls, proved disappointingly low yesterday.
Meanwhile Lib Dem candidate Alex Lister said that with the seat being a target for both the Conservatives and Labour, coming second showed his party couldn't be "written off".
He put his success down to the party's ground effort in the run-up to the vote, saying: "Labour have a much bigger group of supporters who are out campaigning for them.
"We have a small number of canvassers, but they work damn hard. We have done something to be proud of."
Cllr Thomas says he isn’t someone who believes in “safe seats” and that he is “ecstatic” voters have put their trust in him
The final results
Robert Thomas (Con) - 1,355
Alex Lister (Lib Dems) - 756
Ben Hickman (Lab) - 660
Henry Stanton (Green) - 157
Joe Egerton (Ind) - 155
Joe Simons (Ukip) - 120
Heavy speculation of a Conservative victory for Robert Thomas.
Ben Hickman also says he has the impression “lots of Tories are now less hardened Tories” on issues ranging from Brexit to hospital and bus services.
John Simmonds swept to victory at last year's elections, securing a big majority with 55% of the votes.
John Simmonds (Con) 2,321
Ben Hickman (Lab) 700
Daniel Prevett (Lib Dem) 699
Andrew Goatly (Green) 287
Trevor Dockwray (Ukip) 240
We're at the Westgate Hall in Canterbury this morning as the votes are counted in the Canterbury North by-election. The runners and riders are: Robert Thomas (Con), Ben Hickman (Lab), Joe Simons (Ukip), Alex Lister (Lib Dem), Henry Stanton (Green), and Joe Egerton (Ind).
More by this authorAnna MacSwan
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