Bognor Regis Herald — Tories ousted from Aldwick West Arun seat
In a good result for the Lib Dems and albeit small set-back for Arun Council’s Tory Group, Martin Smith came “Top of the Poll” on Thursday in the seat made vacant by the recent death of Jacqui Maconachie in Aldwick West.
Smith took the seat despite the efforts of Tory candidate, Guy Purser, and Ian Manion came in third for Labour with Green candidate, Carol Birch, fourth. UKIP did not field a candidate this time, though it did well in 2015 in second place.
This is not the first time the Lib Dems have held the seat, as Paul Wells represented the ward prior to the 2015 eelections which saw the Tories wipe out most opposition from Arun Council. Smith, who lives in the Ward, also represents Hotham Ward on Bognor Regis Town Council, and this is possible as one can stand in a ward where one does not live provided s/he lives within three miles of the Ward. He chairs the Community Engagement and Environment Committee at the Town Council. He is seen as protege of long-serving Lib Dem key man Francis Oppler and bright hope for the Lib Dems , clearly ambitious to hold chairmanships and council seats.
Turnout was 26.28% of the ward electorate, not bad a figure for a local by-election. The result will have little impact on the dominant lead of the Tories at Arun where they now hold 43 of the 54 seats, Lib Dems 6 Independents 3 (inc 1 UKIP) and Lab 1, Tory majority 32. The UKIP group suffered recently from 3 defections to the Tories with only Ann Rapnick now sitting as their sole member, somehow within the Independent Group. The other Councillor for Aldwick West is Tory Phil Hitchins who heads the currently unclear Bognor regeneration efforts by Arun. In a very real sense, their votes will cancel one another on most occasions at Council meetings.
Labour’s Ian Manion said his campaign worked hard and whilst disappointed naturally he would continue to serve Aldwick as a parish councillor. A local spokesperson said the seat was not one high on Labour’s target list.
The full result & statistics:
Aldwick West (Arun) result:
LDEM: 52.7% (+34.2) Martin Smith 719
CON: 35.2% (-16.7) Guy Purser 480
LAB: 8.2% (+8.2) Ian Manion 112
GRN: 4.0% (+4.0) Carol Birch 54
LDem GAIN from Con.