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Liberal Democrats win Hythe West & Langdown ward seat at New Forest District Council by-election

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THE Liberal Democrats saw off a strong Conservative challenge to retain the Hythe West and Langdown seat on New Forest District Council in a byelection last Thursday.

Winner Sean Cullen polled 559 votes ahead of runner-up Tory Terri Marwood, who received 497.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Malcolm Wade (left) with newly elected Cllr Sean Cullen
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Malcolm Wade (left) with newly elected Cllr Sean Cullen

Labour’s James Gallagher (153) came third and Independent Matthew Kitcher, a former Lib Dem, got 44 votes.

James Gallagher
James Gallagher

The turnout was 25.16%, and there were two spoilt ballot papers.

The election was called after the incumbent, Lib Dem Rebecca Clark, resigned from the seat.

Cllr Cullen said: “I am delighted that the residents of Hythe West and Langdown have continued to return a Liberal Democrat councillor, and I am deeply honoured to represent my home ward where I also serve as a parish councillor.

“Throughout the campaign residents have been forthcoming to me and others on the doorstep on the failure of the Conservative administration, not least their appalling waste recycling record, dragging their feet for two years on any climate change activity and denying both a crime prevention and a child poverty resource in the recent budget announcement.”I am therefore determined, with colleagues already elected to the council, we will continue to highlight such failures and prove there is an alternative administration ready and willing to take over.”

Mrs Marwood noted the Tories had bettered their performance in the 2019 election when the Lib Dems won the seat by 590 votes.

“I’m extremely grateful to my team and every member of the electorate who put their faith in me,” she said.

“As someone who has lived in Hythe my entire life, raised a family and had a local business, I will always help to ensure that our community is achieving its very best, whether I’m a councillor or not.”

She added the Lib Dems “have a responsibility” to act on the issues “which came up time again on the doorstep”, including the urgent need to repair Hythe seawall defences, prevent flooding, increase affordable local housing and addressing concerns over losing Hythe Ferry.

Mr Kitcher, formerly a Lib Dem member sitting on Hythe & Dibden Parish Council, wished Cllr Cullen “the best of luck”, adding: “I will be there to remind him of his duties to the people of Hythe & Dibden and the Langdown ward.”

Matthew Kitcher
Matthew Kitcher

“I don’t feel my political career is over, I will come back stronger in 2023 and I of course will stand again to give the people a choice, to help bring their vision to our beautiful area.”

Labour’s Mr Gallagher felt “overwhelmingly frustrated” by the result and accused Cllr Cullen of being a “puppet” of the New Forest Lib Dem leader Cllr Malcolm Wade.

Terri Marwood (55096734)
Terri Marwood (55096734)

“I would have been much happier to lose to Terri. At least she would have got things done. I could see it meant a great deal to her and for that she has my utmost admiration,” he said.

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