THE Labour party has retained its seat in a council by-election.

Labour candidate Debbie Thiara secured the seat in the Aldborough ward of the borough with more than 50% of the vote, although only 25% of the electorate turned out.

She polled total of 1,436 votes, beating Conservative candidate Melvyn Marks who received 1,071 votes.

Liberal Democrat candidate Christopher Greaves was third with 87 votes, just three more than the UK Independence Party candidate Chris Wiffen.

The by-election was called following the resignation of Labour councillor Mike Figg who resigned last month for family reasons.

Cllr Thiara suggested the recent decision by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to relocate key services from King George Hospital in Goodmayes to Queen’s Hospital in Romford was decisive.

She said: “It is a great honour to be able to represent the people of Aldborough and serve their community.

“We saw real anger about the Tories’ betrayal on A&E and maternity services at King George Hospital.”

Conservative council leader Keith Prince said he expected the Tories to take all three seats in the ward in the 2014 council elections.

He added that the government’s decision to relocate services from King George Hospital to Queen's had had a negative impact on the Tory campaign.

For the Liberal Democrats, Deputy Council leader Ian Bond said he was not surprised by the result. He explained: “We are disappointed, but we weren’t expecting to do well.

“I spent enough time in the ward to know that people were bombarded with leaflets from Labour and the Conservatives.

“We had a similarly bad result in the last Aldborough by-election in 1998 and we bounced back. I’m confident we will do that again.”

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