The Liberal Democrats retain Cottenham in a by-election to Cambridgeshire County Council

Additional coverage: Hannah Brown, local correspondent for Democracy

The Liberal Democrats retained control of Cottenham after a by-election to Cambridgeshire County Council.

Cllr Eileen Wilson.  Photo: Chris Seidel
Cllr Eileen Wilson. Photo: Chris Seidl

Cllr Eileen Margaret Wilson won, with 864 votes, in a challenge to her closest rival, Conservative candidate Francis Morris, who got 678 votes.

Claire Wilson joins fellow Liberal Democrat Annika Osborne in representing the Cottonham ward, which also covers Rampton.

The participation rate in the by-elections was 39.33 percent. It was called after the death of former Liberal Democrat councilor Dr John Lovelock.

The by-election was seen as a test of support for the ruling Liberal Democrats, amid controversy over plans for a crowd charge in Cambridge. The county council is one of the powers that make up the Greater Cambridge Partnership, which is behind the plans.

In the Northstowe by-election in November 2022, the Conservatives won one of the two seats from the Liberal Democrats, who retained the other seat. The Tories described it as a “political earthquake” and a clear verdict on road freight proposals at Cambridge.

In Cottenham, the Conservatives have narrowed the gap significantly from the 2021 election, compared with the Liberal Democrats dropping the vote’s share of 21 per cent, while the Conservatives’ share was up 12 per cent – a swing of 17 per cent. No Labor candidate stood in 2021, which the Liberal Democrats may have benefited from at the time. This time, Thomas Hingston, standing for Labor against the crowding charge, won by 373 votes.

It wasn’t enough for the bench to change hands and Clare Wilson returned to represent the wing after the previous service.

Cllr Pippa Heylings (Lib Dem, Histon & Impington), the party’s parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire, said: “This was a deserved win at a by-election in Cottenham. Congratulations to her fellow Liberal Democrat, Elaine Wilson, and sympathies to everyone who ran for office.

“The results show the great respect the community has for Eileen and this is a result of her hard work previously as a former District Councilor.

Newly elected Claire Ellen Wilson and Pippa Hillings, the Parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire
Newly elected Claire Ellen Wilson and Pippa Hillings, the Parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire

“It’s great to see her representing Cottenham and Rampton again on Borough Council with Cllr Annika Osborne; also with County Councilor Neil Ghosh.

“This result also honors the memory and legacy of the much-loved John Lovelock who sadly passed away just months after his election last May. John loved being on the Borough Council and was particularly passionate about preserving nature and green spaces in and around Cottenham.

“We all reflect on the many conversations we’ve had on our doorstep over the past few months. There is certainly no sense of entitlement among us Democrats and we listen seriously to the issues raised by locals.”

The President of the County Council, Cllr Bridget Smith, paid tribute to Dr. Lovelock, describing him as “a man of distinction whose passion and commitment to his community and its residents is second to none”.

Cllr John Lovelock
Cllr John Lovelock

The Liberal Democrats’ victory means the county council now consists of 35 Liberal Democrat councilors, nine Conservative councilors, and one independent councillor.

Cllr Smith said: “I am absolutely delighted to have Eileen Wilson as Alderman for South Cambridgeshire for the second time.

“I think it shows the faith and trust the people of Cottenham have in the administration that the Liberal Democrats are running.

“I know Eileen was a terrific District Councilor the last time she did it, and I know she will be terrific again, and will continue to make a fitting legacy to Cllr Dr John Loveluck who sadly passed away in the New Year; he left a great pair of shoes to step into.” “.

Cllr Wilson will represent the ward until May 2026 when all seats on Borough Council will be up for election again.

Complete results

  • Oliver Fisher – The Green Party – 107
  • Thomas Mark Hingston, work – 373
  • Joseph Francis Morris – Governor – 678
  • Joan Katherine Pilsworth, independent – 52
  • Elaine Margaret Wilson, Liberal Democrat – 864 – Elected

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