The Tories’ once-healthy majority was slashed to just one at May’s all-out local elections – and Coun Doreen Dart’s death in October meant the party had equal councillors to Labour and the Lib Dems combined, although it still formed the cabinet as the single largest group.
This hung council did not last long, however, as Conservative candidate, Steve Weisinger, held the seat on Thursday’s by-election with 1,453 votes compared to 1,075 votes for Labour’s Phil Beaumont.
John Lenton, of UKIP, came third with 195 votes, Andrew Day, of the Green Party, secured 111 and Lib Dem candidate Cath Smith finished last with just 23 votes. The turnout was 32.56 per cent.
Council leader Rod Bluh said he had been confident the Tories would win – the only question was by how much.
He said: “We’re really pleased. We’ve got a really strong vote on a reduced turnout so I don’t think we could be much happier with the result."
Coun Weisinger, who has been a Highworth town councillor for 12 years, pledges to focus on keeping council tax down while securing the best possible services and facilities for all residents.
He said: “I want to say thank you to all the people who have come out and voted for me.
“The team that I’ve had behind me has been absolutely superb.
“And Doreen Dart was a wonderful councillor and I intend to follow the example she has set for me.”