THE Liberal Democrats have kept control of Winchester City Council after a crucial by-election in the city’s St Paul’s ward.

The Lib Dems hold a wafer-thin advantage of one seat on the authority, which they gained in May after four years in opposition.

But the tables could have turned if they had failed to defend the by-election seat from their Tory opponents.

Labour activists were also pounding the streets, but when the result was declared on Friday (October 15) the Lib Dems held on.

Their candidate, Robert Hutchison, is the founder and former chairman of Winchester Action on Climate Change.

He polled 968 votes to secure a majority of 362 over his nearest rival, Conservative candidate Helen Osborne.

She received 606 votes, and works as a civil servant and is member of St Paul’s church and helped organise this year’s Fulflood Fete.

Labour hopeful Nigel Fox, who is a teacher and staff development officer at Peter Symonds College, received 247 crosses in his box.

Out of 5,624 voters in St Paul’s ward – which includes Fulflood and Oram’s Arbour – 1,821 people, or 32.38 per cent, cast their ballot.

The by-election was called after Lib Dem councillor Karen Barratt resigned at the end of August.

She did so to spend more time with her husband, Mike, who is receiving cancer treatment.

She came to prominence a decade ago after leading the high-profile campaign against an Orange phone mast in Byron Avenue, Fulflood.