THE Liberal Democrats on Taunton Deane Borough Council are celebrating today (Friday, December 16) following a stunning win in a by-election in a Conservative-stronghold.

Former group leader Ross Henley romped home with more than 70 per cent of the vote as the LibDems won the Blackdown ward for the first time ever.

Former opposition leader at the Deane House Mr Henley polled more than double the other two candidates combined.

Simon Coles, leader of the LibDems on the Conservative-run council, said: "We've never held Blackdown before - it's always been a Conservative stronghold.

"I'm delighted by the result, which is testimony to Ross's hard work in the parishes, helping people in the more rural parts of the Deane.

"It was an extraordinary result, with a huge swing to the LibDems.

"It's a reflection of what's happening locally and what we're finding everywhere when we talk to people.

"They are deeply unhappy about the direction of travel of the council.

"I'm overjoyed to have Ross back on the team.

"We will carry on working to achieve the same result everywhere else."

The election was called following the resignation of Charlotte Edwards due to work and family commitments.

The Conservative leader of the counci, Cllr John Williams, said: "It's clearly a disappointment and we will work hard to promote our message for the future so we explain our position and regain the support of the residents in Blackdown.

"However, we remain confident of our plans for Taunton Deane that building on what we have delivered and will deliver in the coming year.

"Some of our exciting plans centre around Firepool, Coal Orchard, supporting the Brewhouse, pay on exit from our main car parks, vehicle messaging to identify parking spaces, town centre enhancement together with homes and employment opportunities required to support our community."


Ross Henley (LibDem), 440 votes.

Giuseppe Farschini (Con), 164 votes.

Carl Bennyworth (Ind), 39 votes.