HALTON'S newest councillor has paid tribute to her predecessor who passed away in September, saying he will be a 'big act to follow'.

Sharon Thornton held the Halton Castle seat for Labour in Thursday's by-election which was called following the death of Harry Howard. Cllr Howard had represented the Runcorn ward for the party since 2006.

Labour, Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party all stood candidates, with local resident Darrin Whyte also running as an independent.

Polls closed at 10pm and votes counted at Castlefields Community Centre, with the results being announced shortly after 10.45pm.

Sharon Thornton was declared winner for Labour with 373 votes. In second place was Iain Ferguson for The Green Party with 117. He was isolating at home on the day due to having Covid and could not attend the count on what was the party’s first time standing a candidate in the ward.

In third place was Darrin Whyte with 69 votes, followed by Conservative Danny Clarke with 45, and Lib Dem Anthony Dalton with 15.

Voter turnout was 12.6 per cent.

Cllr Thornton said: “I’m honoured to have won the seat. I’d like to pay respect to Harry Howard, it's a big act to follow.”

Prior to Covid, she had set up the Community Cafe in Phoenix Park and when Covid hit, provided hot meals to people in the Castlefields, Halton Village and The Brow communities. She also provided free meals to over 300 local children during the school holidays.

She said: “Over lockdown, we’ve had two years where we’ve engaged a lot with the community and it’s important to be deep-rooted in the community.

“I want to keep doing that community work, carry on what I’ve been doing and work hard alongside the other two ward councillors. They’re experienced and I want to learn from them.”

Runner up Mr Ferguson said: “Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Sharon Thornton, I really wish her well.

“Although I’m disappointed not to win this time, we’ve shown that there’s a real appetite for change in Halton.

“I’m going to carry on listening to and working for my community, and am looking forward to the next election in May where more people across Halton will have the chance to vote Green.”