Labour wins by-election

Date: Friday 21st July 2017
Lissie Sharp
Lissie Sharp

LABOUR has made a breakthrough on Eden District Council after 18 years.

Mother-of-three Lissie Sharp (pictured) becomes the first Labour councillor in the Conservative-controlled council chamber after victory in Thursday’s Alston Moor by-election.

She polled 407 votes, with Conservative runner-up Jim Clapp, of Garrigill, on 253. Independent candidate Holly Ho was third with 57 votes and the Greens’ Richard O’Brien fourth on 13. Mrs. Sharp’s majority is 154 on a turnout of 43 per cent.

Labour Party campaigners in Alston believe the last Labour councillor in the Eden chamber was Eric Wilson, of Nenthead — returned unopposed in 1999 to represent the Pategill ward in Penrith.

It is the second win in the area this summer for Labour after Claire Driver won the Alston and East Fellside seat on Cumbria County Council, to represent Alston Moor and villages like Kirkoswald, Renwick, Langwathby, Culgaith, Glassonby and Hunsonby.

In Thursday’s district council by-election, It was called following the resignation of Liberal Democrat Thomas Sheriff who plans to return to university in September. His party did not field a candidate.

Mrs. Sharp, of Station Road, said: “My priorities are health and social care, housing, the economy, tourism, the environment, arts, culture as well as industry and farming. I will work with our other councillors, both Labour and Independent, to help our community survive, and thrive.”

Born on Alston Moor, she was educated locally before studying at York St. John University. She has worked for Impact Housing, Penrith Rural Foyer and the British Red Cross, among others. She is a member of Alston’s Parent Teachers Association and the Fairhill Recreation Ground Trust.

She also co-ordinates a local refugees support group and is working with Eden Ventures to open a youth club in Alston this September.

She said: “Alston Moor is a strong and vibrant community but it faces challenges. It is officially the worst served in Eden for access to services and has an above average rate of people over 65. I will put my energy, experience and skills into fighting for more services and more opportunities for families, young people and those who need support to live at home.

Lindsay Williams, chairman of Alston Moor Labour Party branch, said there were 8,000 votes for Labour across Eden in the general election, yet its voters had been “totally unrepresented” on Eden Council.