The Conservative Party has retained its grip on Thamesfield - despite a big swing to Labour in the first borough by-election for 12 years.

The ward by-election in Putney, which was prompted by Councillor Edward Lister's decision to step down to become Boris Johnson's new chief of staff, saw Tory candidate Michael Ryder take his vacant seat on Thursday.

Newly-elected Councillor Ryder is a semi-retired freelance journalist and travel writer who has worked for nearly 40 years on local and national newspapers, and lived in Putney for almost 25 years. He is married with three grown-up children.

Labour was quick to trumpet a 16 per cent swing in its direction and a 20 percentage point fall for the Conservatives. The Labour candidate, Christian Klapp, increased the party's share of the vote from 19 per cent to more than 31 per cent - receiving 1,022 votes.

Coun Ryder received 1,497 votes - 45.7 per cent - while Lisa Smart, representing the Liberal Democrats, picked up 545 votes and Green Party hopeful, Marian Hoffman, received 202. Turnout at the polls was just over 28 per cent.

In May last year the lowest placed Conservative to be elected, Councillor Jim Madden, recorded 4,654 votes and the best-performing Labour candidate, Janet Grimshaw, picked up 1,559 votes.

Commenting on the result, Wandsworth's Labour leader, Councillor Rex Osborn, said: "Yesterday's result sends a strong message to the Conservatives running Wandsworth Council. Residents are unhappy with the way the cuts are being implemented, and angry that their council has lost touch with their needs.

"If a general election had been held yesterday, a swing of this size across Putney would have unseated the Conservative minister Justine Greening.

"Everyone knows that our council has to find ways of saving money - but to suggest that our children should have to pay to use a playground shows that the Conservatives are completely out of touch with the public mood.

"Before cutting essential frontline services and charging children to play, the council should look at the bonuses it is paying its directors, and the tax breaks it is granting second homeowners in the borough.

"We hope the Conservatives take some time to reflect on yesterday's result, and start listening to residents before they push ahead with any further cuts to essential frontline services."

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