Lib Dems win Sedgemoor District Council's Highbridge seat

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The Liberal Democrats have held onto a Somerset council seat in a by-election at Sedgemoor District Council.

Although the council remains under a Conservative majority, the win is being regarded as a significant victory ahead of the county council election in May.

BBC West's politics editor, Paul Barltrop said: "This was seen as a dress-rehearsal and especially in this ward, it's a good three-way contest."

Helen Groves will replace Joe Leach for the Highbridge and Burnham Marine ward.

'Absolutely grassroots'

The resignation of Mr Leach prompted the by-election on Thursday.

Speaking of her win, Ms Groves said: "I think people want to have a voice, they want people regardless of political affiliation.

"People have recognised that Lib Dems are absolutely grassroots and this is the reason they're supporting us."

Ms Groves will take office on Monday, 28 January.

Both Labour and the Conservatives contested the seat against the Liberal Democrats as well as two independents.

"All three parties rate their chances - Burnham-Highbridge is not typical of all of Somerset one has to say because you have both Lib Dems and Conservatives who traditionally do well across the county but Labour which also had a significant degree of support," added Mr Barltrop.

The results for the by election were:

GROVES, Helen (Lib Dem) 379

HANCOCK, Bill (Con) 288

HOLCOMBE, Ricky (Lab) 249

WATKINS, Purple (Ind) 68

WILLIAMS, Sally (Ind) 253

The turnout was 22.1% with a total of 5,605 eligible voters.

Somerset County Council elections are due to be held on 2 May.

In 2009, the Conservatives took control of the council for the first time in 16 years from the Liberal Democrats.

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