The result of a council by-election in Neath Port Talbot has been announced. The election was called after death of Councillor Sheila Penry, who was one of the county's longest serving councillors.

The vacant seat for the Neath East ward was retained by Welsh Labour, with the newly-elected councillor Lauren Heard winning the position with 44% of the vote. She will now take her place on the council after gaining 409 votes on the night, from a total of 934 cast by residents in the area. Cllr Heard became known for her work as a member of Neath Town Council last year, after she spent her summer making free packed lunches for local children and families in need.

Speaking after her election Cllr Heard said she was honoured to take up the position and was ready to give her all to help residents.

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She said: "I feel really honoured to be elected and to take up after Cllr Penry, so hopefully I can do her proud. I'm really passionate about making a difference, with the big issues being tidying up the area, combating fly-tipping and bringing more things for the kids to do. I'm really excited, and while I know there's a lot to learn I can't wait to get stuck in."

Cllr Penry, who was one of the county's longest serving councillors, former mayor, was described by many as the mother of the council.

It also followed two other by-elections held in February of 2024, firstly in the Briton Ferry East ward, with Gareth Rice of Welsh Labour taking the seat, and in the Rhos electoral ward where independent candidate Bob Woolford was elected on the same night.

All three of the polls come just two years after the last local council elections in 2022, where the county borough saw the control of the council pass from Labour for the first time in its history to a coalition group of independents. For the latest Neath Port Talbot news sign up to our newsletter here.