May 24 2013 Latest news:
Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Friday, March 22, 2013
UKIP has claimed its first local government seat in Greater London, with Lawrence Webb elected to Havering Council in last night’s by-election.
Gooshays lost all its Labour councillors in 2006, with the Conservatives taking two seats and the BNP taking a third.
But the BNP candidate resigned just two years into his term, citing work pressures, triggering the ward’s first by-election.
The party held onto its seat, with Cllr Mark Logan (now an Independent Residents’ Group councillor) taking Alan Bailey’s place.
Labour clawed back some influence in the area in 2010, with Cllr Pat Murray relieving Cllr Logan of his position.
Former London Mayor candidate Mr Webb, 46, won a landslide 39 per cent of the turnout – 839 votes – to take Tory Cllr Dennis Bull’s former seat in the Gooshays ward. Cllr Bull died following a stroke earlier this year.
Mr Webb told the Romford Recorder: “This is a local election, but people are concerned about national issues and one of those is immigration.
“Gooshays has quite a few open spaces and there’s tremendous pressure to build on some of those. What people fear is it won’t be for them and their families but for the overspill from London or other parts of Europe.
“People in Gooshays clearly want to send a message to the old parties that they aren’t listening and they like what UKIP has to say.”
He also said he would fight the Tory administration’s plans to introduce parking charges in the Hilldene shopping centre, adding: “I will be pushing for two hours’ free parking with no return for an hour. I don’t think we need to introduce charges – I shop there all the time and I’ve never had a problem parking.”
Labour candidate Christine McGeary came second with 27pc (569 votes), while Marcus Llewellyn-Rothschild for the Conservatives took 13pc (280 votes) – a big drop from the 30pc won by Cllr Bull in the 2010 election. UKIP’s share was virtually the combined total of the Labour and Tory votes.
Darren Wise for the Residents’ Association won 11pc (227 votes), and BNP candidate Mick Braun received 9pc (202 votes).
In final place, Malvin Brown of the Residents’ Association of London received 1pc with 24 votes.
This isn’t the first time Mr Webb has stood for election.
He has previously lost out in five local polls, including one in Gooshays, and he was UKIP’s candidate for London Mayor in 2012.
He ran for MP three times – twice in Hornchurch and once in the newly created Hornchurch and Upminster seat.
And since 2004 he has contested the Havering and Redbridge seat at every London Assembly election.
But now he’s finally gained a place on the council, Mr Webb is confident about retaining it. Gooshays, like all council wards, will be heading to the polls in May 2014 - at the same time as the European Parliament elections.
He joins Labour councillor Pat Murray and Tory Cllr Keith Wells in Gooshays.
Turnout yesterday was 20 per cent – a little under the 23 per cent who voted in the ward’s 2008 by-election, and far below the 55 per cent who voted there in 2010.
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