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Lib Dems hang on in Olton - by nine votes

THE Lib Dems have held on to their Olton seat by the smallest of margins - winning yesterday’s by-election by just nine votes.

Claire O'Kane

THE Lib Dems have held on to their Olton seat by the smallest of margins - winning yesterdays by-election by just nine votes.

Claire OKane received 1188 votes, edging the Conservative candidate David Price, who polled 1179.

Thirty per cent of voters went to the ballot box, in an election called following the death of long-standing councillor Honor Cox.

Its a result that could prove crucial if the Lib-Lab coalition want to keep control of Solihull Council.

But its likely to cause concern for the Lib Dems - last May, they had a clear majority of over 1000 in this seat.

Speaking to the Solihull News this morning, Coun OKane admitted it was a tight result, but said she was delighted to be elected.

I put myself forward and though it was a close result, Im committed to get on with the job, said the 28-year-old.

Because I will serve the natural life of the seat, Im due for election again in 2012 and hope to increase my majority then.

She said she became involved in politics at the University of Birmingham and had been campaigning in the borough for five years.

The political science graduate, from Walsall, becomes the fourth councillor under the age of 30.

Honor was 84 and still doing a great job for the local community, she said.

Having said that, its really important to get young people involved in politics and to have them on the council.

Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt played down concerns that it was such a close-fought battle in whats usually a safe seat.

I think the Tories fought a very personal campaign based on where Claires from. National issues will have also played their part.

Tories are very good at getting their vote-out - credit to them, they gave us a run for our money.

But Im immensely pleased that Claire has been elected, she will be a breath of fresh air on the council and wont take no for an answer where constituents are concerned.

All attention will now turn to the local elections, in four months time, when the voter will decide if the Lib-Lab group or the Tories should control Solihull.

Conservative leader, Coun Ken Meeson, said it was “frustrating” to have lost by such a narrow margin.

“Itwas disappointing that we didn’t come first, but we fought hard and the swing bodes very well for the local elections in May.

"We spoke to a lot of people who were disenchanted with the Lib Dem's decision to go into a coalition with Labour."

Olton results

Ian JAMIESON - Green Party - 115

Andrew MULLINEX - Labour - 280

Claire O`KANE - Liberal Democrat -1188

David PRICE - Conservatives - 1179

Hayley WATTS - SAMRA (Residents Association) - 228

Olton results (last May)

Greens 164

SAMRA 94

Conservative 2336

Labour 524

BNP 297

Liberal Democrat 3513

 

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