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Labour stronghold Croydon North remains in the party’s hands this morning following a by-election.

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Former Lambeth Council leader Steve Reed recorded more than 64 per cent of the vote, with 15,898, on a turnout of 26.75 per cent.

The contest was necessitated by the death of Malcolm Wicks, who died from cancer in September aged 65.

Conservative Party candidate Andy Stranack came in second with 1,437, while Winston McKenzie, of UKIP, came in third with 1,400 votes. Lib Dem candidate Manisha finished a distant fourth, narrowly edging out Shasha Khan of the Green Party.

The turnout was down some 34 per cent on 2010, when Mr Wicks secured 56 per cent of the vote.

Mr Reed said one of his first tasks would be to set up a 'job summit' in the New Year to tackle the area's high unemployment levels.

He said: "The things people have told me they are angry about in Croydon North is first of all the failure of the government's economic policy has led to spiralling levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, which is higher in Croydon North than in any other constituency.

"(The summit will) bring together employers, public sector agencies, faith groups, organisations, all of us to sit down together and see what we can do to bring more jobs and apprenticeships to Croydon North."

He also criticised the proposals to close South Norwood police station in the wake of concerns he said he had heard from residents about a rise in robberies in Croydon North.

Croydon North by-election results 2012

Electorate 93,063

Steve Reed (Labour) 15,898

Andy Stranack (Conservative) 4,137

Winston McKenzie (UKIP) 1,400

Marisha Ray (Lib Dem) 860

Shasha Khan (Green) 855

Lee Jasper (Respect) 707

Stephen Hammond (Christian Peoples Alliance) 192

Richard Edmonds (National Front) 161

Ben Stevenson (Communist) 119

John Cartwright (Loony Party) 110

Simon Lane (9/11 Was An Inside Job) 66

Robin Smith (Young People) 63

"We need to take action to tell the Tories this is not acceptable at a time when crime is going up," he added.

"The other issue people have been really vocal to me about in the last few weeks is the state of the streets here. They are filthy."

Croydon-born Mr Stranack, once of the Monks Hill estate, was upbeat in defeat.

He said: "I knew it was going to be a challenge but I think we have done well in terms of defying the national polls at the moment.

"If we can get a result like this in mid term when we are making difficult economic decisions then I think the future looks bright for the next general election.

"We were given a warm welcome on the doorsteps of Croydon."

Respect Party candidate Lee Jasper recorded a disappointing 707 votes, despite the high-profile backing of party leader George Galloway.

But he insisted the party was in the constituency for the long haul and would put people up for the council election and general election in 2015. He stopped short of committing himself to the role.

He said: "We have been here for two weeks but we're here (now) for three years.

"I like Thornton Heath, I think this is fertile ground for Respect. They have just got to put in the hard work so people don't think they have just been parachuted in."

Meanwhile, Shasha Khan, from the Greens was philosophical about the party's prospects.

"I still don't think voters understand what we stand for," he said. "If everybody woke up one day without knowing anything about the candidates' parties, I think we would have a different result."

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