The victory means Gerry Keating, returns to Newcastle City Council two years after not standing in Blakelaw following 26 years as a councillor.
The by-election took place on Thursday due to the resignation of Peter Andras in July, who took up a teaching post at Keele University.
Cllr Keating, who registered 711 votes, said he had expected second place Labour candidate Peter Smith (320 votes) to run him closer but said communal bins plans from the authority’s Labour leadership helped his cause.
The former Royal Grammar School teacher explained: “There was a real swing in my favour over the last two weeks, which meant it went from being a two-horse race to a comfortable hold.
“It is difficult to be sure what exactly happened and how Labour managed to lose out on many of the votes it was expected to get, but I think it partly came down to the Labour council’s plans for communal bins which is not popular in Jesmond, as well as us being much better organised.
“What is clear is that West Jesmond does not want a Labour candidate.”
Labour’s cabinet is pushing for the scheme – in which wheelie bins six times bigger than normal ones are placed in back alleys behind properties and shared by residents instead of having individual ones – to enter wards neighbouring South Jesmond following a pilot scheme in early 2013.
Cllr Keating added: “I will bring a lot of experience to the role, and can ferret around in the nooks and crannies of local government.
“I have been out of the council for a couple of years but have been rejuvenated by the break and am up for it. When I became aware a seat was available in the ward where I live, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity.”
The Lib Dem, who admitted he benefitted from the absence of students during Thursday’s ballot, said improvements to transport, particularly Acorn Road, was a priority, alongside the communal bin issue.
The by-election reflected a swing of 13.6 per cent from Labour to the Lib Dems since May when the latter party won by only 32 votes.
Conservative Duncan Crute received 117 votes,
UKIP’s Daniel Thompson scored 112 and
Shehla Naqvi of the Green Party took 94.
The current composition of Newcastle City Council is Labour 52, Lib Dem 24 and Independent 2.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 30 Aug 2014