Voters deserted Lewisham’s Liberal Democrats in the Whitefoot by-election last Thursday with the Labour Party winning the seat by a comfortable margin.
The result is a blow for the Lib Dems who took two of the three seats in Whitefoot at the last election.
The party’s share of the vote fell from 40% in 2010 to 29%, with the main beneficiary being the anti-cuts People Before Profit campaign which took 10.9% of the vote.
Mark Ingleby, who was elected ahead of Lib Dem rival Janet Hurst said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been elected for Whitefoot… I will fight tirelessly for the key services my ward holds dear against these dreadful cuts from the national Government.”
The Lewisham Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Chris Maines, said their candidate would have been “a strong, independent councillor”, adding that “many hundreds of Whitefoot residents…fear they have ended up with just another Labour rubber stamp.”
Mayor Steve Bullock insisted the result was a vote of no confidence in the Coalition government.
Mayor Bullock said: “This result shows what we knew all along, that Tory and Liberal Democrat politics are failing the people of Lewisham. Whitefoot has spoken. Lib Dem support is completely evaporating in Lewisham.”
Maines accused Labour of ignoring local issues and focusing on national politics.
He said: “In victory, as with their campaign, the Lewisham Labour party is scaremongering about national politics rather than focusing on the local issues over which they actually have control.
“Perhaps it is because they know that after 40 years of uninterrupted power in Lewisham, every single failure locally lies at Labour’s door.”
The Whitefoot poll was the first council by-election to be held in the region since the end of the party conference season.
This will be Ingleby’s second term as a councillor since losing his Grove Park seat to the Conservative Party during the 2006 local elections.
By Neil Hawkins