FORMER city council leader Andrew Waller has been re-elected with a resounding victory in today's Westfield by-election.

Mr Waller polled 60 per cent of the vote to regain the seat he lost in 2011. The turnout was 28.5 per cent. He immediately called on the council to re-prioritise basic services such as roads and pavements.

The result gives the Liberal Democrats a ninth seat on the council. Labour have 21, the Conservatives 10 and the Greens 2. There are 5 independents.

Cllr Waller said the result was a vindication of a strong campaign and reflected a disappointment among voters with the Labour council.

He said Labour "threw the kitchen sink" at the campaign but did not connect with voters.

He secured 1,804 votes giving him a majority of 1,216 on his nearest rival, Labour's Louise Corson.

The full result was:

  • Jason Brown (Conservatives) - 113 votes
  • Louise Corson (Labour) - 588
  • Sam Kelly (English Democrats) - 5
  • Judith Morris (UKIP) - 398
  • Andrew Waller (Liberal Democrat) - 1804
  • Alison Webb (Green Party) - 87

Speaking to The Press shortly after the result was announced, Cllr Waller called on the council to alter its focus and said the new hung nature of the council meant opposition parties could force change.

He said: "The whole ethos of the council has to change. People feel it has become too remote; it's become focussed on things that do not concern them, and yet basic services need attention and that's really what needs to be sorted out.

"Roads, pavements, sorting out weeds - those are important to people because that is what they imagine we spend their council tax doing."

Within minutes of polls closing, politicians of all parties said Mr Waller had won.

Labour candidate Louise Corson told The Press early on in the night that she was well received while canvassing and enjoyed the campaign, but said: "I do not think it has gone as well as we hoped. I do not think it has gone our way."

York Press:

Returning officer Kersten England, centre-right, briefs tellers before the count

Green councillor Dave Taylor said at the count said: "My early impression is that Mr Waller is going to be coming back to join us on the council benches."

Mr Waller himself said shortly before 11pm: "Early indications are that our message has got through to the electorate."

Lib Dem leader Keith Aspden said tonight: “I am delighted with tonight’s result and would like to congratulate Andrew Waller on his outstanding victory while paying tribute to candidates of all parties for a spirited campaign.

"Tonight voters have sent a clear message that they feel letdown by Labour and see the Liberal Democrats as the clear alternative in York.

"I have spoken to so many people who feel disillusioned with the way Labour are running York Council - particularly the cuts to basic local frontline services and the plans to bulldoze over the Green Belt."

He said voters on the doorstep had voiced disappointment about the Labour administration, over issues including last winter's controversial Lendal Bridge trial.

York Press: Lynn Jeffries  (9612641)

Cllr Waller paid tribute in his victory speech to Cllr Lynn Jeffries, whose death in August prompted the by-election.

Speaking to The Press afterwards, he added: "She was very much loved and respected, particularly with the residents' associations and disabled groups. 

Many people knew her for many years. I only really worked with her in the last year of her life, and found that a very enriching experienceand it opened my eyes to many issues I had not really come across before."

Labour council leader James Alexander conceded defeat before the annoncement but said he was pleased Labour had held on for second.

He said: "I congratulate the Lib Dems on winning this by-election." 

He said the familiarity of Mr Waller in the ward, compared to Labour's newly-selected candidate, had been a big factor.

"Labour had just selected a candidate and clearly she needed more time to show the community what she has done and is capable of," he said. 

The by-election had been potentially-pivotal in determining the power balance on the council, before the shock resignation of two more Labour councillors last week swung the balance towards the opposition parties.

The make-up of the council is now as below:

York Press: