Lib Dem tells of his surprise at election win

HMS Queen Elizabeth is arriving back into Portsmouth this afternoon

LIVE: HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives back in Portsmouth

A newly-elected Lib Dem councillor has spoken of his surprise after winning the vote in what had been a Conservative stronghold.

Councillor Nick Gregory won the Fareham West seat by-election with a massive swing to the Lib Dems of 34.1 per cent.

Cllr Gregory took 933 of the votes, while closest rival Tory candidate Stephen Day polled 687.

But with the national Lib Dems suffering in the wake of the tuition fees vote, Cllr Gregory was shocked he won.

'On the doorstep, I did feel we were losing a few votes because of what was going on in London with the university fees,' he said.

'So we were a little shocked it was that much of a majority. We thought it was going to be a lot closer than it was - it was a pleasant surprise.

'The Lib Dems have always been a party that's listening to what their voters put across.

'One of the major issues is the 7,000 homes proposed at North Fareham but a lot of people still aren't fully aware of it or the potential implications. I see it as my role to represent the residents' concerns.

'It's more of a personal touch that party politics at this level. I feel what goes in Westminster does have an effect, but when you have five candidates, people vote for the one they feel they can trust the most.'

The by-election, held on Thursday, was prompted after Diana Harrison, who had been on the council for a total of 18 years, stood down in October due to ill health.

Labour's Michael Prior was third with 124 votes, UKIP's Steve Richards was fourth with 93, and the Green Party's Peter Doggett was fifth with 35.

Cllr Gregory joins Tory Cllr Leslie Keeble, who has been on the council since 2000, representing the Fareham West ward.

Cllr Gregory's first official role will be to take part in the full council meeting on Thursday.