Labour councillor's promises after winning Fellgate and Hedworth by-election to claim seat on South Tyneside Council
South Tyneside’s newest councillor has pledged to work with and for the residents of Fellgate and Hedworth after flipping the ward back to Labour.
Councillor Jay Potts said he was excited to get to work after emerging victorious following a by-election on Thursday, July 29.
Although John Robertson sought re-election he failed to reclaim his seat, coming second behind Labour’s Jay Potts, who took the top spot with a 295-vote majority and a 49% share of votes cast.
Newly elected Cllr Potts said his work in the ward with existing Labour councillors Audrey Huntley and Geraldine Kilgour was key to his success.
“It hasn’t really sunk in, I’m just so glad everyone has put their trust in me and I’m going to do the best I can for the residents,” he said.
“I will carry on working with Audrey and Geraldine, staying in contact with the residents and doing what I have been doing for a good few months now.
“It’s just this time, I have got the title of councillor.”
He added: “Audrey and Geraldine have been the best mentors I could ever have imagined, I have learned a lot from them and no doubt I’m still learning.
“I’m just going to carry on doing the good work that we have been doing and making sure that any issues or concerns that residents have are dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Cllr Potts added that the “residents’ concerns were his concerns,” from grounds maintenance to tackling antisocial behaviour and particularly incidents linked to motocross bikes.
One of his biggest priorities also included “standing with residents in protecting the green belt from unwanted development.”
Cllr Potts went on to say: “It doesn’t matter if residents voted for me or not, I’m still there for them.
“I’m the ward councillor and they’re the residents and I’m going to do everything I can to help them, and I’m going to carry on doing that.
“It’s now my job to do that but it’s in my nature to help people, it’s in my blood.”
The victory for Jay Potts is the second Labour Party win in the ward since May 2021, when Audrey Huntley was re-elected in the annual round of local elections.
Cllr Huntley, who lost her seat to independent John Robertson in the 2019 local elections, said recent election wins in the ward represented renewed confidence in Labour.
“It’s wonderful that the residents have put their trust back in us, myself and Geraldine have always said that we’re two pieces of a jigsaw and Jay is that third piece,” she said.
“We will work for our residents constantly, there’s never an issue that’s too small that we won’t take up for them and it’s great that Labour has now got three councillors back in the ward.
“We will ensure that the trust our residents have put in us will reap rewards for them.
“Jay is very well known locally and I think local candidates know local issues and they can address them best for the residents.”
The by-election results were announced at Temple Park Leisure Centre with Labour’s Jay Potts receiving 850 votes followed by independent John Robertson with 555 votes.
Elsewhere, Conservative Party candidate Chris Smith received the third most votes with 158, followed by Liberal Democrat David Wilkinson and the Green Party’s Kelly Hill.
Posting on Facebook after the result, former councillor John Robertson said he was “beaten by 300 votes” and thanked residents for their support.
He added:“A BIG thank you to each and every one of the 554 people who voted for me.”
The total turnout was 30.6% with 1,738 votes cast out of total electorate of 5,685.
Following the result, Labour remain the biggest political party on South Tyneside Council with 45 seats out of a possible 54.
Remaining seats are filled by four independent councillors, three Green Party councillors and one Conservative councillor.
A recent vacancy declared in the Cleadon and East Boldon ward is expected to be filled through a by-election later this year.