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Victoria ward by-election: Labour’s Penny Wrout wins landslide victory

PUBLISHED: 13:08 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:58 21 October 2018

Penny Wrout, Labour's new councillor in Victoria ward

Penny Wrout, Labour's new councillor in Victoria ward

Ian Rathbone

Penny Wrout has won the by-election in Victoria ward, after Alex Kuye was forced to step down less than six months after being elected.

Penny holds the seat for the Labour Party with 58pc of yesterday’s vote. Pippa Morgan from the Lib Dems finished second with 19pc, Wendy Robinson for the Greens picked up 13pc, former Tory councillor Christopher Sills got six pc and Harini Iyengar from the Women’s Equality Party gained four pc. The turn-out was 25pc.

Penny, a mother-of-one who has lived in the ward for 13 years, and in Hackney for more than 25, told the Gazette: “In many ways because of Alex not being well it’s something I’d rather have not happened, but sadly he’s had to stand down and I wish him all the luck in the world.”

She added: “One of the things that was a bit strange about the by-election was the strange situation it puts you into. Normally there are 57 seats but you are standing for the only one, so all the attention is on you, and that’s a strange feeling. Frankly it’s a baptism of fire in terms of having the spotlight put on you if you are new to politics - which I am.”

Throughout the campaign Penny has enjoyed talking about politics to strangers or acquaintances with whom it isn’t usually the “obvious topic of conversation”, and hearing their concerns.

“One of the things I’ve definitely taken note of is how strongly people feel about the bus cuts, and I’m listening loud and clear,” she said. “I will be lobbying Tfl hard to make sure we don’t suffer from those bus cuts.

“We know the cuts are happening because of cuts to a central government grant of £700m, and as I understand it the reason for that is because of the delays to Crossrail, but my feeling is Hackney is suffering disproportionately in their plans to plug the budget gap.”

Penny, who used to work at the BBC and now teaches journalism at Essex University, joined the Labour Party when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader. “If you look at the Conservatives who are digging themselves a bigger and bigger hole, Labour is a party with fresh ideas at the moment, doing lots of research and talking to people at a grass roots level,” she said.

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