Winklebury’s new borough councillor has vowed to fight the proposed closure of the area’s only secondary school “as hard as I can”.
Angie Freeman was declared the winner of the Winklebury by election this afternoon in a major victory for Basingstoke and Deane’s Labour group.
The seat only became vacant in January following Conservative councillor Joseph Smith’s resignation, although the Labour candidate went on to claim 62 per cent of yesterday’s vote.
One of Cllr Freeman’s key pledges heading into the ballot was to oppose a proposal to merge Fort Hill Community School with Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College on the other side of town.
And after picking up nearly double the amount of votes obtained by Tory rival Christopher Hendon, she expressed her belief that Winklebury had been neglected for “too long”.
Cllr Freeman said: “I really wanted to win this seat so I could do something for my community.
“It’s very humbling to know they believe in me and trust me and I’m determined to do my best for this community.
“I live here and know the issues that affect people well, so I will look to actively tackle the problems we’ve got.
“I’ve seen Winklebury go from a thriving community to become such a rundown area.
“We’re losing everything.
“First the GP went and now with the school too, enough is enough, so I will fight it as hard as I can.”
Cllr Freeman claimed 824 votes, Mr Hendon picked up 472 votes and 42 people backed Liberal Democrat candidate Zoe-Marie Rogers, with 29 per cent of the Winklebury public turning out for the ballot.
The result means the Labour group now has 20 seats on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, while this is the first time in 15 years they have held one of the Winklebury seats.
Group leader Cllr Paul Harvey said: “It’s an amazing feeling to have claimed this seat after so long and we’ve gone about it in the right way.
“Angie cares about local issues.
“She is very much someone who is a champion for the community and people have responded to that.
“The issue of the school closure is very real to the people of Winklebury, as this is about their lives and their children’s futures.
“This vote shows that people didn’t think that they were being listened to and were being neglected.”