THE Conservatives came within eight votes of losing the seat left vacant by the resignation of the former leader of East Dorset District Council.

Tory candidate Gina Logan held the Alderholt ward for her party with 384 votes, compared with 376 for Liberal Democrat David Tooke.

At last year’s local poll – held on the same day as the general election – council leader Ian Monk gained 1,133 votes, 795 ahead of second-placed UKIP. The Lib Dems did not field a candidate at that election.

Ian Monks quit the leadership and his council seat last December after rowing with local MP Chris Chope and facing criticism from his own group on the council.

Mr Monks had agreed with the leaders of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch councils that the authorities should be merged to create a new unitary council for South East Dorset.

Twenty East Dorset councillors objected to the plan that Mr Monks backed, compared with eight in favour.

Thursday’s by-election result in full: Christopher Archibold (Labour) 49; Gina Kembler Logan (Conservative) 384, elected; David Lawrence Tooke (Lib Dem) 376. Turnout: 33.3 per cent.