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Blacon's new Labour councillor will tackle loneliness in community

By-election victory means Labour retains overall majority on Cheshire West and Chester Council

Newly-elected Labour councillor Ben Powell wants to support the lonely and the isolated in the Blacon ward he will represent on Cheshire West and Chester Council .

He takes over from long-standing Labour colleague Reggie Jones who served the community for 27 years but stepped down when his family circumstances changed.

Cllr Powell secured 1,556 votes in the by-election giving him a 982 majority over his nearest rival, 25-year-old Tory candidate Jack Jackson (574 votes).

Tory Blacon candidate Jack Jackson

Outlining some of his priorities for Blacon, Cllr Powell, 29, who lives in Handbridge , said: “I would desperately like to see a health centre delivered in Blacon along The Parade and we’re investing in play areas around the ward. But my biggest aim as a councillor is to tackle loneliness and isolation.

“There are some groups working across Blacon that do a lot of work to deal with that. But at the same time out knocking on doors in Blacon, you speak to people who are vulnerable and low and they don’t often know about these groups that are out there.

“I think it’s a really unfortunate sign of the times that people wake up and go to bed and not speak to a friendly face all day and anything I can do to change that for those people I will do.”

Former Blacon councillor Reggie Jones

Paying tribute to his predecessor Cllr Reggie Jones and other big names who have represented the ward over the years, he said: “When you look at the councillors who have previously represented Blacon, there’s Reggie Jones, there’s John Price, there’s Harold Tomlins, a whole list of councillors who have done really really good work.

"It’s huge boots to fill and people remind you of that every time you knock on a door in Blacon.”

Talking about the forthcoming general election, Cllr Powell, speaking at Chester HQ where the count took place, added: “It’s not a warm-up for the general election but I think what we’ve seen is that Theresa May has been very arrogant in the way she’s assumed she can walk into parliament and the people in Chester are still coming out and supporting Labour.”

The count for the Blacon by-election at Cheshire West and Chester Council's HQ building in Chester.

Labour council leader Samantha Dixon was relieved her group’s tiny one seat overall majority had been retained even though Blacon is one of her party's safest seats.

She said: “It’s a ringing endorsement for the Labour council and we’re really pleased with the result. Ben has worked very hard along with all of the activists in the Labour Party.”

Independent Blacon candidate Steve Ingram

Polling the third highest number of votes was Steve Ingram (434 votes), a former UK Independence Party (UKIP) Chester parliamentary candidate, who stood as an independent.

The Lib Dems ’ Lizzie Jewkes will be disappointed to have come last with just 70 votes.

Mrs Jewkes was this week revealed as her party’s parliamentary candidate for the City of Chester constituency in the June 8 General Election.

Lib Dem Blacon candidate Lizzie Jewkes

Blacon is also represented by Labour councillors Marie Nelson and Carol Gahan.

The composition of the current council is 38 Labour, 36 Conservatives and one Independent. Cheshire West and Chester Council members will next face the electorate in May, 2019.

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