New Ashfield Independent councillor speaks of by-election victory

New Councillor Matthew Relf, Ashfield Council Leader Jason Zadrozny and the Ashfield Independent Team celebrate their win at the Ashfield District Council Offices.
New Councillor Matthew Relf, Ashfield Council Leader Jason Zadrozny and the Ashfield Independent Team celebrate their win at the Ashfield District Council Offices.

New councillor Matthew Relf, of Searby Road, Sutton, received 82 per cent of the votes in yesterday's Sutton Junction and Harlow Wood by election

The seat was previously held by Steve Carroll, formerly a Labour councillor before leaving the party in early 2018 as part of a movement which caused Labour to lose overall control of Ashfield District Council.

The Ashfield Independents received 856 votes from constituents in the Sutton Junction and Harlow Wood ward, with the Labour Party, which formerly held the seat, finishing in second with just 97 votes.

Councillor Relf has spoken of the victory, saying it 'stunned' the Ashfield Independent team.

Coun Relf said: "It stunned us all.

"We were hoping for a win, but it was hugely humbling that my neighbours voted for me.

"I have been working on various projects with the Resident's Association for three years, so being local and caring about the same issues as everyone else must have helped.

"People recognised that work, and that I've had the same issues they have.

Now, Coun Reif, an IT Consultant, wants to focus on planning, and the level crossing at Sutton Junction causing traffic problems, amongst other issues.

He added: "It's the first time I've ever run for council so it's all new.

"We will be organising a big party, this has been a real team effort."

Councillor Jason Zadrozny, leader of Ashfield District Council said, "This is an amazing result and the biggest ever percentage of the vote I have ever witnessed.

"Matthew was an excellent candidate and this is a victory for hard work and dedication.

"I would like to thank my amazing team - dozens of them them work week in, week out and this is a vindication of our work since we took over our Council.

"Residents have resoundingly rejected the negative, misleading politics of the local Labour Party."

Councillor Cheryl Butler, former leader of the Labour Group in Ashfield called the loss 'disappointing'.

She said: "It's easy to concentrate on single issues that residents can relate to.

"The Independents are good at picking a single issue, such as planning, then using that to garner votes.

"Labour is a bigger machine, and we are focusing on the May elections.

"We have our candidates in place and a plan of action."