A DRAMATIC by-election saw Conservative candidate Ian Brown pip Liberal Democrat Simon O’Rourke to the post in the fight for a seat on Ribble Valley Borough Council – but the opposite happened in the battle for the town council seat.
After a recount on the night of the by-election, Mr Brown won a seat on the borough council after securing four votes more than Mr O’Rourke, but missed out on the town council seat to his rival by eight votes.
The closely-fought battle was for borough and town council seats in the Salthill Ward following the resignation of Liberal Democrat Coun. David Berryman.
A close result was always anticipated, with Mr O’Rourke describing the by-election as a “two horse race” between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in his newsletters.
Representatives of both candidates phoned local residents reminding them to vote at Brookside Primary School polling station on the night of the election. However, turnout was low at just 23%.
For Mr Brown, a well-known local businessman who has lived in Chatburn Road for 20 years, the result means a return to office, as he is a former Ribble Valley councillor and Mayor of Clitheroe.
“I’m proud and honoured to be elected as a Conservative in this by-election and I believe that, as part of a strong Conservative-led council, I can work to make our town an even better place in which to live,” he said.
“Clitheroe has been my home for the last 40 years and as a local resident, I understand and care about local issues which are important to Salthill people.
“I will press for local investment in the centre of Clitheroe, so important at a time of economic uncertainty and fight to improve the availability of affordable housing for our young people who want to continue to live where they were born and brought up.
“I would like to thank all the voters who supported me and those who worked so hard in the by-election.
“I am honoured to serve all the people of Salthill, whether they supported me or not, in every way that I can to the best of my ability.”
Local politics is a new challenge for Mr O’Rourke, who was born and brought up in Clitheroe.
He lives near the town centre with his wife and two children and is well-known around town for his work promoting disabled access to shops and facilities and through running the Shopmobility scheme.
He thanked residents of Salthill Ward for the warm welcome they had given him during the by-election.
“Although I missed out on election to Ribble Valley BC by a mere four votes I am determined to work tirelessly for all the residents of Salthill for the next three and half years,” he said.
The Conservatives now hold 34 of the 40 seats on the Ribble Valley Borough Council, the remainder being one Independent and five Liberal Democrat councillors.
The Labour Party are without an elected representative in the Ribble Valley at town, borough and county level.
The full results were: Borough Council, Salthill Ward - Ian Frank Brown (Con) 208; Simon Michael O’Rouke (LibDem) 204; Steve Rush (UKIP) 158; Mike Rose (Lab) 4
Clitheroe Town Council: Simon Michael O’Rouke (LibDem) 212; Ian Frank Brown (Con) 20; Steve Rush (UKIP) 155; Mike Rose (Lab) 39