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Liberal Democrat John Crofts wins by-election to represent King’s Lynn Freebridge ward on Norfolk County Council

A retired head teacher has been elected as a county councillor, replacing the seat which was held by a former Lynn mayor until his death this year.

North West Norfolk Liberal Democrats are celebrating after John Crofts was elected to represent Freebridge Lynn on Norfolk County Council today.

It comes after former mayor and leader of West Norfolk Council Nick Daubney, who was voted in as county councillor representing the same ward as a Conservative in 2021, died aged 72 in May.

New county councillor for Freebridge Lynn, Liberal Democrat John Crofts.
New county councillor for Freebridge Lynn, Liberal Democrat John Crofts.

The results of yesterday’s by-election saw a swing from Conservative to Liberal Democrats, with Cllr Crofts receiving 669 votes, working out to 38% of all votes cast.

In 2021, Mr Daubney had received nearly 65% of the vote, so with the Conservative candidate Olivia Morris amassing 539 votes this year, there was a drop for the Tories to 30% of the share.

Green candidate Michael de Whalley received 418 votes (24%) and Labour’s Lesley Marriage garnered 115 votes (6%) in the by-election, which had a turnout of 23.79%

Cllr Crofts said he was “honoured” and “truly humbled” that the residents of the ward had “placed their trust in me”.

“I’m looking forward to getting started. It has been a pleasure to meet so many of you already and I look forward to meeting many more in the months to come,” he said.

The result means that it is the third time that Liberal Democrats have been voted into a seat formerly occupied by a Conservative in recent by-elections, after Cllr Rob Colwell and Cllr David Sayers took the Gaywood South and Gaywood North and Central divisions on the county council.

Cllr Colwell, chair of North West Norfolk Liberal Democrats and their parliamentary spokesperson, said: “We did the triple.

“This is a historic win for the Liberal Democrats who have shown once again they are now the real opposition to the Conservatives in Lynn and North West Norfolk.

“Never before has this division, since its creation, been anything other than true blue. Residents in Freebridge Lynn have echoed the clear message they have already heard in other parts of North West Norfolk and that message is that they want change.

“During this campaign many residents expressed the wish that it had been a general election.”

He said he felt the Conservative vote was “evaporating” in North West Norfolk.

Cllr Sayers, of Gaywood North and Central, added: “Not once, not twice, but three times. We can’t stop winning.

“I’m so excited for John Crofts, he is a real community man and such a doer. He’s just what Freebridge Lynn deserves.”

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