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Labour councillor elected in Chaucer ward as final Southwark result declared

Chaucer ward has elected a Labour councillor for the first time since the 1998 elections. Claire Hickson will represent the ward alongside Lib Dems Tim McNally and Poddy Clark.

Poddy Clark, Tim McNally, Claire Hickson
Chaucer ward is now represented by Poddy Clark and Tim McNally (Lib Dem) and Claire Hickson (Labour)

Chaucer ward was narrowly held by the Lib Dems at the 2006 elections. Both parties have put in a lot of campaigning effort and mobilised activists from other parts of the borough.

The ward stretches from Elephant & Castle to Bermondsey Square and includes the Rockingham Estate and Tabard Gardens Estate.

Labour's campaign was boosted by visits from former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and housing minister John Healey.

Whilst the results in 20 of Southwark's 21 wards were declared on Friday night, the result in Chaucer was so close that a recount was demanded. This was postponed until Saturday to allow everyone involved to get some rest after two days of election counts.

When the result came on Saturday afternoon it confirmed that Claire Hickson, who works for an SE1-based public relations firm, had managed to capture one of the three seats from the Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dems Poddy Clark and Tim McNally topped the poll, with Labour's Claire Hickson in third place, beating Lib Dem incumbent Mackie Sheik by six votes. Steve Lancashire, who was a Chaucer Labour councillor between 1994 and 2002, failed in his bid to make a comeback.

The Chaucer result means that Southwark now has 35 Labour councillors, 25 Lib Dem councillors and three Conservatives. The Green party's sole councillor, Jenny Jones, lost her South Camberwell seat to Labour.

"I'm absolutely delighted," said Cllr Peter John, Southwark Labour leader. "It's a vindication of our very positive campaign. In Southwark we offered people a real opportunity to the Lib Dem/Tory coalition and they liked what we were offering."

He says that one of the new administration's top priorities will be to set up a separate housing department within the council. The previous regime had merged housing with enivronment and leisure but Labour claims that Southwark, as London's biggest landlord, needs a dedicated management structure for its thousands of homes.

Cllr John described the result in Chaucer as "fantastic".

"Claire Hickson has been a terrific candidate and will be a great councillor for that area," he said.

"I think it shows the Lib Dem domination of the north of the borough and SE1 has come to an end. We were in contention – only 250 or so votes behind – in Cathedrals ward and obviously taking a seat in Chaucer ward demonstrates that Labour is coming back in the north of the borough. That's great news."

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