Labour win Lune Valley village seat for first time in decades

Coun Kevin Frea
Coun Kevin Frea

A Lune Valley village has elected a Labour councillor for the first time in recent history.

Kevin Frea said he was “honoured” to be elected as councillor for Halton-with-Aughton on Lancaster City Council, and would concentrate on affordable housing and transport as his main concerns.

Labour won by a margin of just two votes, narrowly beating Green Party candidate Jan Maskell.

The by-election on Thursday September 28 was called after Independent Coun Paul Woodruff stepped down.

Coun Frea (Labour) received 247 votes, Daniel Scott Gibbins (Conservative) recieved 236 votes, Jan Maskell (Green Party) got 245 votes and Catherine Pilling (Liberal Democrats), received 174.

On the night of the election, the Labour Party parked a “battle caravan” in High Road, with city and county councillors, Labour members, and even Clive Grunshaw, police commissioner for Lancashire, visiting the village.

The turnout was much lower than in the 2015 election however at just 43 per cent with a total electorate of 2,096, but Labour managed to double their votes in Halton.

Coun Frea said: “I’m lost for words, I thought what was extraordinary was the combined Labour and Green vote.

“I think it’s down to a lot more younger people moving to the village, and their concerns about affordable housing, and just wanting change.

“The best thing for me is that it really must have ruffled David Morris (MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale).

“I just feel honoured really.

“I really heard people’s anger about housing, and I really want to see that the best is made out of it.

“I want to make sure that developers are providing the affordable housing they say they will.

“I also spoke to a lot of people who felt stranded because of the lack of a bus service, especially at weekends, so I’ll be getting on to the county council about that.

“I’ll also be looking at solutions to the traffic problems in Halton.”

The Labour Party took overall control of Lancaster City Council following a by-election win in Skerton earlier this month.

Coun Frea’s victory in Halton brings the number of Labour councillors sitting on the council to 32 out of a total of 60.