Christchurch Independents win BCP Council byelection in Commons ward
THE Christchurch Independents have won the vacant BCP Council seat in the Commons ward.
Vanessa Ricketts won by almost 500 votes over her nearest challenger, Conservative former councillor Lisle Smith, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Cllr Ricketts said she was “totally overwhelmed” by the result and that it was “testament” to the legacy of Colin Bungey, whose death left the seat empty, and his efforts to support the ward’s residents.
Cllr Bungey died in April having been an Independent councillor in Christchurch since 1983.
The pandemic meant the by-election for his replacement could not take place until last Thursday. Vote counting took place on Friday.
Cllr Ricketts, a former council clerk, secured 1,310 votes, just under 500 more than Conservative candidate Lisle Smith.
The winner said support from people living in the ward had been “phenomenal”.
“It feels like it’s been one of the longest campaigns in history,” she said after the vote was formally declared. “At the end of it, though, we got the result residents wanted.
“A lot of it is down to Colin’s legacy as an Independent councillor and I want to continue that by being totally independent.
“The Christchurch Independents are a party of independents, there’s no whip and we won’t be voting en masse – we will do what is right for our ward.”
Turnout in the by-election was 36.5% with just under 3,000 votes cast.
Vanessa Ricketts (Christchurch Independents) – 1,310
Lisle Smith (Conservatives) – 822
Fred Neale (independent) – 296
Carol Gardiner (Liberal Democrats) – 242
Peter Stokes (Labour) – 214
Peter Bailey (Ukip) – 48