A Wandsworth Council by-election was won by just one vote yesterday.
The election in the Bedford ward was won by the Labour Party candidate, Sheila Boswell, by 906 votes to the 905 of the Conservatives’ Tom Mytton.
The election on Thursday was the result of the resignation of previous councillor Hannah Stanislaus, who had only been elected in May.
The result meant that the Conservatives cut the Labour majority in the ward from 936 to just one within the space of just five months.
Defeated candidate Mytton said: “It’s disappointing to miss out by just a single vote, however, there is so much we can be proud of with this result.
“For too long Labour has taken residents of Bedford Ward for granted.
“I shall continue to work hard in Bedford Ward and the new South Balham Ward, listening to and doing all I can to deliver for residents and stand up for their interests.”
The result was so close that ballots had to be recounted once.
Labour London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth Leonie Cooper said: We’ve got a great new councillor in Sheila Boswell. She’s very experienced, a real campaigner, and she’ll be a fantastic councillor for the people in Bedford ward.
“I’m not sure you can draw any conclusions from this by-election as to what happens in May. In terms of next May, I think it’s really hard for anybody to say at this stage because the wards are all completely different.”
The boundary changes has seen significant change to wards in Wandsworth, including the abolition of the Bedford ward.
Turnout was just 21.7%, significantly down from the 514% turnout at the last by-election for the ward in May.
In that election, voters returned the Labour candidate Stanislaus with 2,714 votes compared to just 906 this time around.
Wandsworth Council Leader, Ravi Govindia said: “936 previous Labour majority whittled down to 1, it couldn’t get closer.
“I think it’s both recognition of the confidence people have in the brand of Wandsworth Conservatives and the council’s record in delivering the quality of services for the area.”
Wandsworth Council has seen a slow shift to the left in recent years, and this result goes against this trend.
The number of Labour councillors on the council has slowly ticked up in recent elections, doubling from 13 in 2010 to 26 in 2018.
In 2010, all three councillors returned in Bedford ward were Conservatives whereas by 2018 this had switched to a full Labour contingent.
The previous councillor, Hannah Stanislaus, resigned from the Labour Party in August over bullying allegations against the party and resigned her seat in October.
She had only been elected in May in a by-election called because of the resignation of Fleur Anderson, now the MP for Putney after winning the seat in the 2019 General Election.
The by-election also saw an improved result for the Green Party, who saw their share of the vote increase by just over four percentage points.
The ward sits between Balham, Tooting, and Streatham in the southeast of the borough and was previously represented by current Labour MPs Rosena Allin-Khan and Fleur Anderson.
Wandsworth Labour was contacted for comment.
Featured Image: Eugene Regis via Wikimedia Commons