A WINCHESTER city councillor has resigned, triggering a by-election on the knife-edge council.

Cllr Karen Barratt, a Liberal Democrat, has stood down for personal reasons with immediate effect.

Her husband Mike has recently told that cancer has returned and is inoperable.

She said: “Mike has good days and bad days. For me it's difficult to make commitments for the council. If he has a good day I don't want to say I can't be with him because I have a planning meeting.”

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A by-election for the vacant seat on St Paul's ward, will be held on Thursday October 14.

The Lib Dems have a narrow majority of just one on the city council, holding 29 seats, to the Tories' 26 and the Independents' two.

The Lib Dems will be hot favourites to retain the seat which lies in their heartland of Fulflood. The party has held all three seats in the ward since 1996.

Council leader Kelsie Learney said: “Karen is a great loss to the council. She devoted enormous amounts of time and energy to helping local residents and her expertise in planning matters was invaluable.

“Karen rightly now feels she needs to spend more time with her family and it is very much in character that rather than let local people down she has stood aside to let someone else take over.”

Mrs Barratt rose to prominence in 2000 with her campaign against the mobile phone mast near her home in Byron Avenue.