Liz wins by-election for Conservatives
New Frenchay & Downend councillor Liz Brennan with South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage
CONSERVATIVE Liz Brennan is the new councillor for the Frenchay & Downend ward on South Gloucestershire Council.
She won the by-election to fill the seat vacated when fellow Tory and former council deputy leader Jon Hunt stood down from the council last summer, amid strong challenges from the Liberal Democrats and Labour.
Almost 45% of voters turned out for the election on May 6 – up from 37% when all three Frenchay & Downend seats were up for grabs at the local elections two years earlier.
Ms Brennan's total of 1,819 votes was one more than the highest-placed Conservative winner in 2019, Ben Burton.
And third-placed Labour candidate Sean Rhodes' 1,049 votes was a higher total than the highest-placed runner-up in 2019, Labour's AJ Coakham.
But the big movers in the election were the Liberal Democrats, who leapfrogged Labour to become runners-up after selecting parish councillor and businessman Raj Sood, who runs the convenience store on Quakers Road.
Mr Sood won 1,598 votes, cutting the gap between the Tories and the opposition from 620 two years ago to 221 this year.
The Green Party stood a candidate in the ward for the first time, but Oliver Owen was a distant fourth, with 347 votes.
Mum-of-three Ms Brennan will join fellow Conservatives Ben Burton and James Griffiths to represent the ward.
She said: “Being given this opportunity by the people of Frenchay and Downend to represent our local community is a great honour and I look forward to representing residents on the council alongside Ben and James, providing a strong voice for our communities.
“I am extremely passionate about delivering positive change and cannot wait to get started on delivering for the people who have elected me.”
Before she was elected, Ms Brennan was involved in campaigns for high street funding, free swimming lessons for pregnant women and new medicines for people living with cystic fibrosis, after her six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the debilitating condition.
Council leader Toby Savage said: “I am pleased to have such a passionate and committed campaigner as Liz join the council and am sure she will be a fantastic representative for the people of Frenchay and Downend.”
The Liberal Democrats said they were "confidently looking forward to the next local elections" after pushing Labour into third place.
Mr Sood said: “I have been running a campaign built on listening to local residents and championing the issues that matter to them, like helping our local businesses to recover, direct bus services to Southmead Hospital and tackling ring road traffic noise.
“I feel indebted to people who showed their faith in me. I will continue to serve them as a parish councillor and local campaigner to the best of my ability.”
South Gloucestershire Lib Dem group leader Claire Young said: “Raj’s phenomenal result in Frenchay and Downend – cutting the Tory lead to just 221 - shows that people in South Gloucestershire are growing disenchanted with the ruling Conservative Party.”
Liz Brennan (Con) 1,819
Raj Sood (LD) 1,598
Sean Rhodes (Lab) 1,049
Oliver Owen (Grn) 347