HOME Secretary Charles Clarke and Hyndburn MP Greg Pope meet Claire Hamilton.
HYNDBURN Council has an extra-special new member ... the youngest councillor in the country.
in March 1995, Claire Hamilton, at just 21 years old, made history when she crept home to win last week’s Rishton by-election for Labour by just three votes.
The late-night, nail-biting finish was made even more traumatic for the new councillor by officials insisting on three recounts.
A jubilant Claire said: "It was unbelievable and it’s only just beginning to sink in. At first I thought we had lost, as the Tories were so confident, but we pulled through at the last minute.
"By the final recount I nearly collapsed but when I realised we’d won I was delighted We had canvassed long and hard."
Claire, who lives in Clayton-le-Moors, and is about to begin a part-time Masters Degree in sociology at the University of Central Lancashire, attracted 759 votes compared to Tory Stan Horne’s 756. The Liberal Democrats got 129 votes and the turnout was 32.2 per cent.
The by-election was called after Tory councillor June Butler died from cancer in January. The result leaves Labour with 16 councillors and the Conservatives with 19.
Councillor Jean Battle, leader of Hyndburn Council’s Labour group, said: "There seemed to be more young people attending the polling stations and this victory shows that young people are still interested in the Labour Party.
"I think the win also sends out a message to the Conservatives about the way they’re running the borough. They put out a negative leaflet attacking our plans to pay for more wardens."
Hyndburn MP Greg Pope added: "Claire has done amazingly well because Rishton is a very difficult ward to win.
"And I must say, for us to be making gains at the moment in a by-election is great."
At the beginning of October 2005, Claire attended the Labour conference in Brighton, giving a 3 minute speech on how poorly the council was run, and the degrading of the Wardens in the borough. afterwards she meet her idol, Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister.
In 2008 Clair became a County Councillor, rather than a local Councillor, winning a seat in Lancashire County Council.
To contact Claire click here: Claires Email.
First published by the Accrington Observer, 24th March 2005, John Fahey.