Victorious Moira’s town hall return

BACK IN ACTION ... Primrose's new councillor Moira Smith.''h
BACK IN ACTION ... Primrose's new councillor Moira Smith.''h

AN ousted Labour councillor is returning to the town hall after victory in last night’s Primrose ward by-election.

Moira Smith lost her seat in Jarrow’s Fellgate and Hedworth ward back in 2007 after a public outcry over a proposed business park, which she had supported.

But it was all smiles last night at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields, after she emerged triumphant in Primrose, a seat made vacant following Emma Lewell-Buck’s election as MP for South Shields.

The victory was something of a family affair too – Coun Smith’s husband, Alan, is now a Labour representative for Fellgate and Hedworth.

Coun Smith said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the people of Primrose have voted me in, and I will do my very best and work very hard for them.

“UKIP did well, as they did in the South Shields by-election, but they are basically a protest vote at the end of the day.

“I shall be working with the other two Labour councillors in the ward.

“I enjoyed my work as a councillor when I represented Fellgate and Hedworth, and I have missed it. It’s good to be back.”

Coun Smith, of Holland Park Drive, Jarrow, won the seat with 755 votes.

Her return to politics has not been without its tensions.

During the selection process for the Jarrow seat, she had to draw straws with a rival candidate to decide a winner – after they both received the same number of nominations.

UKIP was putting up a candidate in the Primrose ward for the first time last night.

It followed success in the recent South Shields by-election, where its candidate Richard Elvin finished second.

And the party’s John Stephen Clarke rewarded the decision to stand by again coming in second place, with 520 votes.

Mr Clarke, who was bitten on the hand by a dog while distributing leaflets early in the campaign, said: “I’m amazed by that.

“It’s the first time UKIP has ever stood in the ward, so from a standing start to get something like 35 per cent of the vote at a first attempt is an amazing result. It augers well for the future.”

It proved a disappointing night for Conservative’s John Dagg Coe, who came in last with 80 votes. Martin Vaughan, of the British National Party, polled 146 votes in third.

The turn-out in the ward was 24.1 per cent.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul