The Conservatives have triumphed in the first byelection held in Kingston since they took over.

School governor Maria Netley received 1,062 votes beating nearest rival Liberal Democrat Marilyn Mason's 725 votes, to win the seat in Tudor ward.

Tudor has been held by the Conservatives for nearly 25 years.

Councillor Netley, who is a governor at St Luke's Primary School, said: "I feel delighted. In a byelection you can't ever be sure what's going to happen.

"I am looking forward to getting to know the ward and everyone who lives in the ward."

The turnout was 37.47 per cent from an electorate of 6,913 - with only one ballot paper rejected.

The byelection was held after former Tory councillor Frank Thompson stepped down due to health reasons last month.

Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis, said: "Frank was quite a hard act to follow but I think we have got a really great person. She is going to be excellent - people really took to her on the doorstep."

Councillor Netley will join fellow Tory councillors David Cunningham and Hugh Scantlebury representing Tudor.

During the count, Coun Cunningham said: "In 25 years we have not lost Tudor - if we did, that would be a story. But I don't think we will."

Neither Mrs Mason or Lib Dem leader Liz Green attended the count in the Guildhall on Thursday night.

But Robin Meltzer, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park and north Kingston, said: "Marilyn Mason was an extraordinary candidate and pushed up the Lib Dem vote significantly.

"The Liberal Democrats were the only party to increase the number of people who voted for us. Every other party lost support.

"Marilyn is heartened by the number of people who came out to support her record of campaigning on the environment.

"Other parties talk about the environment a lot, but it's only the Liberal Democrats in Richmond Park and North Kingston who have a decades-long record of campaigning and action."

The Lib Dem campaign had drawn criticism, particularly the Green Party, who claimed Mrs Mason's campaign literature did not clearly state who she was standing for.

Many Tudor ward residents mistook her for the Green's own candidate, it was claimed. 

Green candidate Ryan Coley said: "Many people thought Marilyn was our Green candidate and although we managed to talk to some people we were never going to be able to make sure clarity was seen.

"The fact we raised our share despite all of this is indicative that if none of this happened we would have polled very strongly."

Another leaflet also mocked Coun Netley used to own a teddy bear named Harold Wilson. 

Surrey Comet:

Marilyn Mason's now infamous "teddy bear" leaflet  

But Mr Meltzer said: "I think they [the Green Party] were frustrated because Marilyn basically was the green candidate with a small G  and that was so clear from the start that it left them floundering. 

"The words Liberal Democrat were all over our literature and the logo was on most things we put out, often very prominently.

"In fact the only piece of literature which didn't mention the Lib Dems explicitly was the "teddy bear" leaflet - representing a tiny percentage of the over all output.

"As for that particular leaflet - it was a bit of fun we sent to certain households. 

"It was supposed to be a bit tongue in cheek - I think there's room for that in a long campaign, we don't all have to be so po-faced."


Votes breakdown:

  • Conservative Maria Netley - 1,062
  • Liberal Democrat Marilyn Mason - 725
  • Labour  Chris Priest - 314
  • UK Independence Party Ben Roberts - 269
  • Green Party Ryan Coley - 219