Double joy for Tories days after General Election defeat

Newly elected Newcastle Borough Councillors Jill Whitmore and Mandy Berrisford
-Credit: (Image: Kerry Ashdown)

Newcastle Conservatives had two reasons to be cheerful after winning a borough council by-election - just days after losing their Parliamentary battle. Council leader Simon Tagg was unsuccessful in his bid to become Newcastle's next MP - but on Monday he was welcoming two fellow Conservatives to the borough authority.

The by-election at Newcastle Borough Council was triggered by the resignation of Conservative councillors Simon White and his husband Gary in May, shortly after the announcement of the General Election date. The pair stood down from the Madeley and Betley ward because they are moving from Madeley to Market Drayton and said they would not "in good conscience" be able to represent the Madeley and Betley ward "from a distance".

Verification of the votes began overnight on Thursday at Keele University Sports Hall, alongside the General Election votes, which were counted in the early hours of Friday. Those anticipating the borough by-election results faced a longer wait than the Parliamentary candidates however, as the borough council count began at 11am on Monday at the authority's Castle House headquarters in Newcastle.

READ: Jonathan Gullis loses Stoke-on-Trent North to resurgent Labour - Labour's David Williams is the new Stoke-on-Trent North MP

READ: Top Tory Sir Gavin Williamson new Stone MP after Sir Bill Cash quits - Sir Bill Cash stepped down in May after 40 years as an MP

Shortly after 1pm it was revealed that the two seats had stayed blue, with Conservative candidates Mandy Berrisford and Jill Whitmore being elected. Labour may have won the Parliamentary battle last week, with Adam Jogee becoming Newcastle's new MP, but their candidates in the by-election, Tony Kearon and Claire Radford, had to settle for fourth and fifth place respectively, with third place going to independent candidate Tanya Morgan.

Dr Kearon, a former borough councillor, previously campaigned to become Staffordshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner in 2021 but was defeated by Conservative Ben Adams. And it was second time unlucky for Ms Radford, who narrowly missed out on election at the 2022 borough council election.

Two years ago she received the same number of votes - 470 - as Conservative candidate Lilian Barker for the Crackley and Red Street ward. The winner was eventually decided by the drawing of lots, with Councillor Barker's name picked out of a box.

Both new councillors were standing for election to the borough authority for the first time but are parish council members. Councillor Whitmore, who has served on Madeley Parish Council for 17 years, is also a village lollipop lady and keen to improve safety for families crossing the A51.

She said: "I thank the people of the borough for their belief in me. Now the work begins."

Councillor Berrisford, who has served on neighbouring Betley, Balterley and Wrinehill Parish Council for 15 years, has taken a leading role in maintaining footpaths. She said: "It's surreal to be elected as a borough councillor - thanks to everybody that has got us here."

The Conservatives remain in control of the council with 25 seats. Labour has 18 seats, while Councillor Susan Beeston remains the sole independent member.

Councillor Tagg said he was really pleased the Conservatives had retained the two seats following the departure of the Whites. "It shows Labour haven't had a clean sweep," he added.

"We've got two brilliant new councillors with local roots. This gives us the security to continue our agenda to run the council."

Newcastle Borough Council Madeley and Betley by-election result

Mandy Berrisford (Conservative) 1,164
Tony Kearon (Labour) 856
Tanya Morgan (Independent) 1,066
Claire Radford (Labour) 736
Jill Whitmore (Conservative) 1,084

Rejected papers 33

Turnout 71.5%

Sign up to our main daily newsletter here and get all the latest news straight to your inbox for FREE