MELKSHAM Conservatives were celebrating last night after winning a stunning victory in a town council by-election by just one vote after two recounts.

The contest in Liberal Democrat heartland of Melksham North was caused by the resignation of one of their councillors, Simon Hedley.

Mr Hedley, of Sherwood Avenue Melksham, resigned after closing his business in Melksham and moving out of the town.

Conservative candidate Sue Brown fought a month-long campaign against the Lib Dem candidate Clive Jeffries with strong support from local Conservative activists.

The local Conservative Party member won the vacant seat by 411 votes to 410, with five spoilt ballot papers, on a 21 per cent turnout. The result looked like a dead heat but was won after two recounts with a majority of just one.

Cllr Brown said "It has been a very hard election battle but I have enjoyed knocking on doors and meeting my new electorate on the doorstep and talking through their concerns.

“This election victory is important as it is in strong Lib Dem territory and a winter campaign is never easy.

“However, I look forward to working for Melksham people on Melksham Town Council."

Conservative agent Jonathon Seed said "This knife edge result was a local Melksham Conservative success and puts the political parties on notice that the Conservatives are determined to fight and win any local contest in Wiltshire."

Jon Hubbard, a Lib Dem councillor for Melksham and a Wiltshire Council ward member, said: “Obviously, we are very disappointed that Clive Jeffries was not successful in holding the seat for us.

“Simon has had a career change and it was not appropriate for him to carry on being in the position.

“It was a closely fought contest and followed an announcement about the council tax precept. Unfortunately, we lost by just one vote.

“We would like to congratulate the Conservative candidate and look forward to working with her in the future as we move forward.

“The local elections will be contested again in two years’ time and I am confident that we will regain the seat at that point.”