Can ex-UKIP man hold off charge of Lib Dems in Chiddingfold?

By Daniel Gee   |   Head of Content   |
Wednesday 23rd November 2022 5:00 pm
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The Chiddingfold and Dunsfold by-election is likely to come down to a battle between Tory candidate Ian Mitchell (pictured) and Lib Dem Dave Busby

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The candidates standing in the Chiddingfold and Dunsfold by-election at Waverley Borough Council next month have now been announced.

Three candidates will contest the vacant Chiddingfold and Dunsfold seat with a by-election taking place on Thursday, December 1.

They are Rebecca Aitken for the Labour Party, Dave Busby for the Liberal Democrats, and Ian Mitchell for the Conservative Party.

The by-election was called following the death of long-standing Conservative councillor John Gray.

The victor will be installed as Cllr Gray’s successor for just six months, with voters returning to polling stations next May to elect their borough representatives for the next four years.

But the result could give an indication of how national – as well as local – politics may affect the 2023 borough-wide poll.

Conservative candidates have won both Chiddingfold and Dunsfold’s borough council seats ever since the seat came into being at the 2003 election.

But the Tories have seen their share of the vote dwindle in recent elections, slipping from a high of 83.7 per cent in 2007 down to 41.5 per cent at the last election in 2019.

The Conservatives’ lead was cut from 846 in 2015 to just 200 in 2019 as the Green Party and Lib Dems surged, pushing Labour into a distant fifth place.

And last week, the Greens withdrew their by-election candidate “to avoid splitting the progressive vote” and have since backed Lib Dem hopeful Dave Busby.

According to the Lib Dems, Mr Busby lives with his husband on Woodside Road, Chiddingfold, and runs the volunteer programme for a non-profit supporting charities across the world.

His social media profiles reveal he is actively involved in campaigning to end sewage discharges into local streams and fighting Conservative-approved plans to drill for fossil fuels in Waverley borough.

Looking to hold off the challenge of Mr Busby, and Labour’s Rebecca Aitken, and hold on to the Conservatives’ Chiddingfold and Dunsfold seat is Ian Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell stood against the Conservatives for UKIP in the 2015 Chiddingfold and Dunsfold borough election. And in October he claimed South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt “used to go along to the UKIP open meetings at Farnham”.

He also said Mr Hunt was a “fence-sitter” on the EU, called the new prime minister Rishi Sunak a “tax dodging billionaire”, and has called the UK’s foreign aid budget, immigration issues and benefits system “a drain on society”.

Polling stations will open for voters in Chiddingfold and Dunsfold ward on Thursday, December 1 between 7am and 10pm. More details can be found at the council website here

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