Tories hold seat in by-election

PUBLISHED: 19:19 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 May 2010

GRAHAM PALMER

GRAHAM PALMER

PERHAPS in the end the result was inevitable. The Tories have been entrenched in the Meridian ward for decades and their candidate Graham Palmer duly took the vacant seat on Royston Town Council after last Thursday s by election. In spite of the outcome,

PERHAPS in the end the result was inevitable.

The Tories have been entrenched in the Meridian ward for decades and their candidate Graham Palmer duly took the vacant seat on Royston Town Council after last Thursday's by election.

In spite of the outcome, the campaigning was dominated by a mix-up over polling cards due to boundary changes.

Some residents in Barkway Road who were not in the ward were issued with polling cards - and then North Herts District Council had to hand-deliver letters to say they could not vote.

The mix-up led yesterday (Wednesday) to the district council issuing a statement from deputy returning officer David Miley saying "important lessons" had been learned from the procedure.

"We will do our utmost to prevent a similar situation occurring again," he said.

Mr Miley continued: "We may all agree that council ward boundaries should be identical and remain as such so that people always know where they stand.

"Councils are powerless to interfere with changes introduced by the Electoral Commission."

He admitted that this could lead to electors being moved from one ward to another. "This is a common problem throughout the country."

Mr Miley said, however, that in the 2010 elections there will be a common boundary.

But in spite of the assurance, town councillor Robert Smith, who was campaign manager for the Conservative candidate, said there were "misgivings" about the conducting of the by-election.

He said the problem over ward boundaries caused "undue confusion to the democratic purpose".

He said the Tories would be calling for an investigation to ensure that the situation does not occur in the future.

And Caroline Coates, the campaign organiser for Liberal Democrat candidate Lisa Thompson, said it was quite worrying that the district council "made a mess" of the by-election.

"This follows the last county council elections when some 200 votes were lost and the loss was never fully explained," she said.

And she continued: "With this poor management of elections it is no surprise that people are rapidly losing the will to vote."

She stressed that the district council had to "come to grips" with managing elections to restore people's confidence in democracy."

Ms Coates said she was "delighted" with the increased proportion of votes given to the Liberal Democrats.

New councillor Mr Palmer, who took his place at Monday evening's meeting of the town council's planning committee, said he was "delighted" with the outcome of the by-election.

Meridian Ward result

Graham Palmer

(Con) 562

Lisa Thompson

(Lib Dem) 347

Vaughan West

(Lab) 112

Poll 24%

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