LibDems win Aylsham by-election
PUBLISHED: 00:01 18 March 2016 | UPDATED: 01:22 18 March 2016
Conservative candidate claimed the result was "no surprise".
A Liberal Democrat candidate who lost his council seat at the last election has won it back less than a year later.
Steve Riley, of Barnby Road, Badersfield, was first past the post in the Aylsham by-election organised by Broadland District Council on Thursday after polling 829 of the 1729 votes cast - just 175 votes ahead of his nearest rival.
He missed out on a place in the three member ward after finishing sixth at the general election in May last year but was able to stand again following the resignation of Conservative councillor Jo Cottingham who announced she is moving out of the area.
In his first interview following his victory, Mr Riley said: “It feels good. I was elected here in a by-election in 2013 but lost the seat in 2015 so I’m really pleased to be representing Aylsham again. I always attend town councils and parish councils within the ward and look forward to working with them again.”
Conservative candidate Hal Turkmen, of Cawston Road, Aylsham, finished second with 654 votes and Labour candidate Christopher Jenner, of Lower Farm, Horsford, was third with 243 votes.
The ward - one of the largest at Broadland District Council - covers Aylsham, Blickling, Burgh and Tuttington, Marsham and Oulton.
Mr Turkmen said: “It is not a surprise because we (Conservatives) have never won a by-election in the Aylsham ward before. We do much better in general elections but on by-elections, unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats have always won before. But I think this was the closest the voting had been, we are closing the gap every by-election so we’ll see how it goes next time.”
The Conservative Party still hold the balance of power at Broadland District Council with 42 of the 47 councillors - the Liberal Democrats now have five.
However, the Labour party believe the result could have been different had more voters turned out at the ballot box. The turnout was recorded at 28.6 per cent.
Mr Jenner said: “There are 6000 people eligible to vote in the district and only 1700 came out to vote, so if we can address that issue we might start to see a different result.”
But he added: “It was a very fair campaign, I have no complaints about the outcome. I do believe if more people were more committed and used their vote we would have more of a democracy. You can’t have a democracy when only a third of the electorate go to the polling station.”
The count took place at Aylsham Town Hall after the polls closed at 10pm and the result was confirmed an hour later.
Returning officer Phil Kirby, chief executive of Broadland District Council, said: “It went really well. Staff worked really hard, it was a long day and we got a decisive result.”