VIDEO - Lib Dems take Bilton in by-election

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There were celebrations for the Liberal Democrats in Harrogate last night as Val Rodgers secured a landslide victory in the Bilton by-election.

Crowds of onlookers had gathered in Harrogate’s council chambers for the count late last night, with Mrs Rodgers securing 46 per cent of the vote to take Bilton back from the Conservatives.

Waiting for the results at the Bilton by-election. (S)

Waiting for the results at the Bilton by-election. (S)

Speaking after the count closed at around 11pm she said: “Thank you to everyone who came out to vote on such a cold day.

“It was always going to be a difficult one to call, with UKIP and Labour both standing. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and I will continue to work hard to do the best I can for Bilton residents.”

The full results were; Val Rodgers, Lib Dem, 623 votes. Neil Bentley, Con, 395 votes. Andrew Gray, Lab, 208. David Simister, UKIP, 127. Spoiled, 2.

Turnout at yesterday’s election, despite it being one of the coldest days of the year with temperatures dipping to minus four, was quite high at 30 per cent.

The by-election, for a place as ward councillor on Harrogate Borough Council, had been called after Conservative Alec Brown stood down to pursue work duties.

He had served since May last year, having knocked out Liberal Democrat Andrew Kempston-Parkes with 976 votes against 801.

Bilton’s new ward councillor, Val Rodgers, is retired having worked in public service. Val has lived in Bilton for over 40 years, in Meadowcroft, and is a member of the Bilton Conservation Group and the Bilton Historical Society. She is also a dog training instructor for a local charity. Val is a steward at the Bilton Area Methodist Church on Skipton Road and a School Governor at St Peter’s School. Val attended the early meetings that helped save Bilton Library from closure by North Yorkshire County Council. Val is an active campaigner throughout the year and fought with residents to protect the Bilton Triangle from developers in 2006. Val said she is totally opposed to the council spending more money on new council offices at a time when our roads and footpaths are crumbling, street lights are being switched off and support to the disabled reduced.