Labour have beaten the Conservatives to victory in a Bracknell Forest Council by election.

Paul Bidwell, the Labour candidate, beat Conservative candidate and former councillor Ian McCracken in the Old Bracknell by-election.

The election was a two-way contest between the candidates, with cllr Bidwell winning out with 434 votes to Mr McCracken’s 276 votes.

Therefore cllr Bidwell won with a majority of 158 votes.

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Celebrating the victory, cllr Bidwell said: “I’m honoured and delighted to get the trust of the voters of Old Bracknell, and I look forward to serving them and being their champion on the borough.

“It was quite a night. It was obviously a significant win, with a 23.2 per cent swing, if that was reflected across the borough we would be in control of the council.

“That’s a phenomenal endorsement from the people of Old Bracknell and I’m very proud to be their representative.”

The result comes as the Conservatives recently have come under fire nationally following revelations many MPs are earning money from second jobs and allegations that a Christmas party was held at the Prime Minister’s house at 10 Downing Street while London was put under strict lockdown measures.

Asked whether the national context may have had an impact on the result, cllr Bidwell said: “Certainly on the doorstep there was bewilderment at the behaviour of those at the top of national Government.

“People were incredulous about the Christmas party allegations and I think obviously some of the vote was motivated by the national picture given that feedback.”

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Cllr Bidwell serves as a Bracknell Town councillor for Priestwood, and the Labour candidate for MP in 2017 and 2019.

He added: “I will be serving on the town council but clearly I have a big job to do in Old Bracknell.

“My main priority will be to engage with the community and be their champion and their voice on the borough council.

“I have already got calls from some of the residents about the issues they’ve been having.”

The result now means Bracknell Forest Council is made up of 37 Conservatives, four Labour councillors, and Liberal Democrat Cllr Thomas Parker.

Thanking Labour activists, Cllr Bidwell said: “This was a phenomenal team effort from Labour Party members who’ve been leafletting and canvassing for the last four weeks.

“The turnout was not high but that’s often the case with local elections.

“The team effort was stupendous, I think we thoroughly deserved to win the election by the margin that we did.”

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Conservative candidate Mr McCracken had served as a Bracknell Forest councillor for Old Bracknell from 2011 until his retirement from council life in 2019.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of cllr Malcolm Tullett, who caused political drama within the Conservative Party when he left the political group at Bracknell Forest Council in July.

He had attempted to stay as a Conservative on Bracknell Town Council, but had his membership ‘voided’.

Although he was reinstated in the Conservative group at the Town Council in September, he was booted back out of it when he chose to resign from Bracknell Forest Council in October.