LABOUR has held on to the St Anne’s seat vacated by shamed Sunderland councillor Lisa Smiles.
In a by-election, which saw a turnout of 23.2 per cent, gran-of-two Jacqui Gallagher, 53, was elected with 945 votes.
UKIP’s Aileen Casey came second with 555, while Tory candidate and former group leader Tony Morrissey received 345.
The Green Party’s Emily Blyth was last, getting 120 votes.
In total 1,971 votes were cast, with six papers rejected, out of an electorate of 8,493.
Councillor Gallagher, who lives in Thorney Close, said: “Obviously I was over the moon. I have wanted to stand as a councillor for a lot of years, but couldn’t because I worked for the council, so I’m very pleased.
“I think my first priority is helping people. That’s been my job since I left school really, meeting the public if they approach us with any concerns, then go out of my way to help.
“I want to express my gratitude to the public for voting.”
St Anne’s ward colleague, Labour’s Coun Thomas Wright, said: “A great victory for Jacqui Gallagher and Labour in the St Anne’s by-election. The Tories were humiliated into third place by UKIP, but whilst UKIP threw every resource possible at this election, Jacqui had a majority of more than 400 and more votes than UKIP and the Tories put together.”
Runner-up Aileen said: “UKIP has done tremendously well with such short notice. I will be back contesting the ward in May this year and I am confident of improving on last night’s fantastic result.”
Conservative spokesman, Coun Lee Martin said: “I think we’re happy that we increased both our vote and our share of the vote in what is a challenging ward for us. Clearly the Labour Party have lost a lot of their vote to UKIP. If that happens in some of the other wards – and we hold our vote – then we will be taking seats off Labour in May’s citywide elections.”
Emily Blyth said: “Congratulations to Jacqui Gallagher on her excellent result, and thank you to everyone who voted Green.”
Benefit cheat councillor Lisa Smiles left her seat at Sunderland City Council and quit the Labour Party earlier this year, months after she was convicted of conning the authority out of more than £2,000.
Smiles, of Portchester Road in Pennywell, failed to declare wages and her councillor’s allowance when claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit.
She admitted receiving £2,318 in payments she was not entitled to over a period of 12 months and was fined £150 when she appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.