The winning Liberal Democrat candidates in Hindhead’s borough and town by-elections have laid out their vision.
Conrad Waters won the Haslemere Town Council Hindhead ward by-election last Thursday (June 23) – defeating Conservative candidate Malcolm Carter.
It means the Lib Dems now outnumber the Conservatives at Haslemere Town Council. The political make-up is:
- Lib Dems – eight seats,
- Conservatives – six seats,
- Green Party – two seats, and
- Independents – two seats.
Meanwhile, Julian Spence won the Waverley Borough Council Hindhead ward by-election, defeating Conservative candidate Ged Hall.
It means the Lib Dems (16 seats) have now overtaken coalition partners Farnham Residents (15 seats) as the party with the second-most seats at Waverley, behind the Tories (20 seats).
On the same night, the Lib Dems also held a seat at Godalming Town Council.
Speaking to the Herald after the results were announced at Borough Hall in Godalming, both winning candidates believe the public’s opinion of Boris Johnson played a part in their victories.
Cllr Spence said: “I am humbled by the support the voters gave Conrad and me. During the campaign I met many people who simply wanted a local councillor who would listen to them, be honest with them and fight for them. I hope we can honour that trust.
“At the same time I met a large number of people who said they are completely fed up with Boris Johnson, the lack of direction in Westminster and being taken for granted by the Conservatives.”
Cllr Waters added: “Throughout the campaign, many electors made it clear they loathe Boris Johnson’s dishonesty, which is at odds with their own values. The vote allowed them to reinforce the message that things must change.”
The by-elections were called to elect new representatives in Hindhead’s Haslemere Town Council and Waverley Borough Council wards following the death of long-serving Conservative councillor Peter Isherwood in April.
Julian Spence won Waverley’s Hindhead ward by-election with 537 votes – defeating Conservative candidate Ged Hall, who gained 446 votes. Eight ballots were rejected and turnout was 30 per cent.
Conrad Waters won the Haslemere Town Council Hindhead ward by-election with 526 votes – defeating Conservative candidate Malcolm Carter, who gained 440 votes. Eleven ballots were rejected and turnout was 29 per cent.
Cllr Spence said: “Much will change at Westminster – I hope – in the ten months before the regular council elections in May 2023 and the issues will be different.
“What the voters in Hindhead and Beacon Hill have done this week is give me the chance to demonstrate commitment to our community and to provide the service and support people deserve from their local councillors.
“I am confident, if I and my three other Lib Dem Hindhead councillors do that, we will be well placed to win again next year. But we have to earn that.”
Cllr Waters added: “I would like to thank those who voted for us, and also all those who voted. Events in Ukraine show us freedom is precious. Its survival relies heavily on support for the democratic process.
“I think the result reflected approval for what Liberal Democrats are achieving on Haslemere Town Council and Waverley, often in the face of hurdles imposed by national government.
“The support for our initiatives relating to the environment and climate change was particularly strong.
“Our existing councillors were also seen as being accessible and committed to getting things done. This contrasted with perceptions that Conservative-led Surrey County Council is remote and failing to address local problems, such as poor road maintenance.
“Julian and I don’t take anything for granted. Electors will expect us to deliver on our commitment to listen to and act on their concerns. That is the only way we can earn their support in future votes.”