Conservative lead is slashed in Norwich district’s by-election

Liberal Democrats and Labour slashed a Conservative majority in Old Catton by almost three quarters in a county council by-election last night.

Old Catton is a traditional stronghold for the Tories and their candidate Judy Leggett did retain the seat with 664 votes and a 40.6pc majority, but that was down 8.3pc from 1,206 in June 2009.

Lib Dems surged into second place with Bob Fowkes taking 414 of the votes, an 11.8pc rise, and there was a similar votes surge for Labour - as Ukip slumped from runner-up last time to fourth.

However the previous contest in June 2009 was on the same day as European Parliament elections in which the arch Euro-sceptic party performed strongly.

The by-election result is a boost for Labour but also an immense relief for Liberal Democrats after hundreds of losses in May's main council polls.

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Lib Dem candidate Bob Fowkes said of the result: 'I would like to thank all of my neighbours in Old Catton and West Sprowston for the warm reception I and my team received over the last few weeks.

'I will continue to work on the issues you raised with me, like the state of the bus service we receive from First in the coming weeks.'

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A spokesman for the Norwich Labour Party - whose candidate Chrissie Rumsby enjoyed a 12.2pc rise to 377 votes - said: 'The 12pc swing to Labour confirmed that people were disillusioned by the failure of both Conservative and Liberal to keep promises made at the election, especially on the NHS.

'A wide range of voters ranging from older people, carers, parents, disabled and young people were worried by the eagerness of the Conservative council to wield the axe on vital services.'

Glenn Tingle ran in the by-election for for Ukip and Jennifer Parkhouse for Green Party.

Result - Con 664, Lib Dem 414, Lab 377, Ukip 107, Green 75.

(June 2009 - Con 1206, Ukip 402, Lib Dem 334, Lab 267, Green 262).

Con hold, swing 10pc Con to Lib Dem.

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