‘No safe Tory seats in Shropshire’ claim as Lib Dems celebrate by-election victory

The Liberal Democrats have declared “there is no such thing as a safe Conservative seat” on Shropshire Council any longer after a shock by-election victory in one of the county’s Tory strongholds.

New Lib Dem councillor Andrew Sherrington and supporters
New Lib Dem councillor Andrew Sherrington and supporters

Andrew Sherrington was declared the new councillor for the Worfield division after a re-count on Thursday night, with just eight more votes than his Conservative opponent and the former councillor for the area, Michael Wood.

The final result was 400 votes for Mr Sherrington with Mr Wood on 392, and the Labour candidate Shanthi Flynn receiving just 40.

It represents a significant swing from the Conservatives’ 2021 local election victory in the ward, when Richard Marshall secured a 75 per cent vote share, leaving the Lib Dems trailing behind in second place with just 15 per cent.

Mr Sherrington said his victory was a reflection of the “total mismanagement” of the council by the current Conservative administration.

He said: “This is a clear sign that the sands are shifting under the Conservatives in Shropshire, and that they can no longer take rural areas for granted.”

Mr Sherrington’s election brings the total number of Lib Dems on the council to 16, with the Conservatives now down to 39 following the resignation of Elliott Lynch in Alveley and Claverley earlier this week.

It is the first time since the council was formed in 2009 that there have been fewer than 40 Conservative members. The total needed for a majority is 38.

Liberal Democrat group leader Roger Evans said the result was a taste of what is to come at the next all-out local elections.

He said: “The majority that the Conservatives have had on Shropshire Council is now under big, big pressure.

“Notice is now being given by electors that they are fed up with being taken for granted, of being ignored.

“The feeling being expressed by residents’ discussions that have taken place during this latest election and in other places, both at meetings and on the many doorsteps, is that they want change, are demanding change. I fully support these views.

“I and many others consider that community wants and needs are ignored. That needs to change and in May 2025 we are hoping, expecting, to be in a position to put these into effect.”

The council’s Labour group leader Julia Buckley also said she expects the Conservatives to lose their grip on the council in 2025.

She said: “We are not surprised to hear that even in the Conservative rural heartland of Worfield and neighbouring villages, our local residents have had enough of the Conservatives.

“Across Shropshire, residents realise that increased taxes and cutting our services to the bone are no way to run our council during the cost of living crisis.

“After this result in Worfield, the Conservatives’ flaky hold over Shropshire Council has now reduced to a majority of only five.

“We anticipate this to be decimated further by the upcoming Alveley by-election with our excellent candidate .

“It won’t be long until our council will have a fresh administration with fresh ideas, and crucially, fresh faces at the helm.”

Lib Dem campaigners have claimed the result evidences a swell of local support for the party in south Shropshire ahead of the upcoming General Election.

The Ludlow Parliamentary seat was previously held by the Lib Dems’ Matthew Green, from 2001 until he was unseated by Philip Dunne in 2005.

Mr Green said: “This spectacular 30.6 per cent swing from Tory to Lib Dem will send shivers through declining Tory ranks on the council.

“It is a big boost for the Lib Dems in the General Election in South Shropshire.”

Chris Naylor, the party’s prospective General Election candidate for the new South Shropshire constituency, added: “Andrew Sherrington’s victory in Worfield is yet more proof – after wins in Highley, in North Shropshire, and across the country – that rural voters feel taken for granted and are turning to the Liberal Democrats.

“So many residents I met in Worfield village, in Beckbury, in Kemberton, in Hilton and more had never heard from their previous councillor.

“They flagged up years-old problems with broken pavements, missing street lights, fly-tipping – the local issues that our Shropshire councillors care about and get fixed.

“Residents’ massive support for Andrew and the Lib Dems will make us work even harder to secure voters’ backing in the forthcoming General Election and win South Shropshire – so residents here are no longer taken for granted.”

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