LABOUR won a closely-fought Horwich Town Council by-election last night by just seven votes.

Ian Carruthers polled 217 votes in the Lever Park ward to beat the Horwich First-backed independent candidate Peter Ravald, who won 210 votes, and retain the seat for Labour.

Former Labour councillor Kath Schofield resigned from her post in the ward last year due to ill health.

The Liberal Democrats' Caroline Turner-Preece came third with 188, followed by Conservative Mike Drinkwater on 70, and the Green Party's Rod Riesco with nine votes.

Mr Carruthers, who has previously served on the town council and was Horwich mayor in 1992, said: "I wish to thank the voters of Lever Park ward for putting their trust in me and Labour.

"I campaigned on issues which affect residents in the ward. The attack on our school budgets such as at Lord Street Primary by the Conservative government was a key issue and my campaign to get more dropped kerbs installed for disabled and elderly people.

"I also promoted Labour’s investment and commitment to Horwich by the building of the brand new leisure centre, investment in Horwich Town Centre and keeping key services like our library open when many other local authorities are closing such services.

"I look forward to representing Lever Park residents and I will be there for them putting Horwich first."

The turnout for the by-election was 26.22 per cent.

Mr Ravald said: "I am quite pleased with what I achieved in the short time available. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this and I was very satisfied with the reaction I got from people on the doorstep.

"I thought I was in with a good chance of beating Labour, but they have been campaigning for a lot longer than I have.

"In some ways it is a success to have finished second ahead of the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, but it is disappointing to lose when there are only seven votes in it."

Horwich Town Council is now comprised of eight Labour members, three Liberal Democrats, and three independents.