VIDEO - Tories retain seat at Wellington by-electionBy Pete Castle
September 24, 2010
THREE members of the same family will serve as councillors in Rushmoor for the first time.
The result was announced late on Thursday when the vast majority of voters stayed away from the polling booth.
With just 755 votes cast, turnout was just 13%.
Praising her fellow Tory councillors and party activists for their part in her victory, Cllr Choudhary said: “I’m shocked but very pleased with the hard work that has been put in.
“I’m going to sit down with my fellow councillors and constituents and work out what the next steps are going to be.
“I’ll be tackling some of the issues raised when I was out and about talking to the constituents and trying to solve some of their problems.”
With a low turnout, it was a close-run contest, with Cllr Choudhary winning with just 270 votes, 32 more than her nearest rival.
The election was triggered by the Lib Dems, who called for it to be held after one of the ward’s three sitting councillors, Francis Williams, resigned.
The leaders of both the other main parties, Keith Dibble and Peter Moyle, said the Lib Dems’ decision not to allow the post to stay vacant, costing the council around £6,000 for the by-election, was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Cllr Choudhary echoed their sentiment but said she was keen to join the small group of women on the council. She will be just the seventh female councillor out of 42.
“We needed a councillor, but I think we could have waited for a year because we have only just had the elections in May,” she said.
“We need more women in power and in the council. But I’ll be doing my best as an individual for the council.”
Another first for Rushmoor was the fact that all three major parties put women forward.
Beaten Lib Dem candidate Mitch Manning, who came second with 238 votes, said: “I’m just disappointed. It was a bit too close, but I’ll be doing it again.”
She defended the need for the by-election, saying that such a large and important town centre ward needed three people to do the job.
Labour candidate Sam Wines, who got 184 votes, said she thought voter apathy and poor weather had led to the low turnout.
“I’m very disappointed by the turnout, but I’m relatively pleased that I got 184 votes,” she said.
“I won’t be giving up and I’ll be standing again in May.”
It was not the day for the minor parties or independents. UKIP candidate Eddie Poole, a former Tory himself, secured 50 votes, and his fellow cab driver Roger Watkins, standing as an independent, polled 12 votes.