A NEWLY-elected councillor has confessed he has ‘big shoes to fill’ after triumphing in a by-election prompted by the retirement of a former town hall boss.

But Coun Brian Newman has said that the people of Fence and surrounding areas will be his first priority after he secured the Old Laund Booth seat on Pendle Council for the Liberal Democrats.

The poll on Thursday was triggered after Coun John David, a former borough council leader, stepped down due to health reasons.

He had held the seat with a 10-vote majority when it was losted contested in 2011, over the Conservatives Jill Hartley.

The margin of victory was somewhat wider for Coun Newman this time around, as he polled 427 votes, 161 over Mrs Hartley, and well ahead of UKIP’s Mick Waddington and the Blue Party’s Keiron Hartley, with a turnout just short of 60 per cent. Labour did not enter a candidate.

Coun Newman said: “It went a lot better than I thought - I’ve got big shoes to fill and all of this would not have happened but for John’s ill health. My priority will be the people of Fence - politics is about local people.”

He has served on Old Laund Booth parish council now for nine years - five of those as chairman - and is also chairman of the village hall committee.

Previously he had stood as the Lib Dem candidate for Shelagh Derwent’s old Pendle West division in the 2013 county council election but was defeated by the Conservative’s Christian Wakeford.

Following the by-election there are now 11 Lib Dem councillors, 19 Conservatives, Labour are on 18 and there is one BNP member.