A FORMER Conservative councillor and police and crime commissioner for Surrey, David Munro, has been elected in the Waverley Borough Council Frensham, Dockenfield & Tilford by-election as an independent.
Mr Munro polled 39 per cent of all votes cast to win the seat left vacant after the death of Tory councillor Brian Adams in February, beating Green Party candidate Susan Ryland (32 per cent) and Conservative candidate Nabeel Ahmed Nasir (29 per cent).
He said after the result was declared just before midnight on Thursday (May 12): “I am of course delighted with the result – which to me was completely unexpected. I thought the Greens, who ran a well-coordinated and forceful campaign, were set to win.
“It’s a great honour to represent, together with sitting Councillor Julia Potts, residents of the ward where I’ve lived for over 30 years, and I am so grateful to all those who voted for me. With the heat of the election now over, I will of course do my very best to be a good servant to every inhabitant of this wonderful part of the world.
“I personally knocked on over 80 per cent of the doors in the ward and met hundreds of residents over the last few weeks – not to mention lots of dogs of all shapes and sizes, nearly all of them friendly.
“It was a joy to listen to, and exchange views with, so many people. A number of constant themes came up: the dangers of inappropriate over-development, speeding traffic, the poor condition of too many of our local roads, aircraft noise from Farnborough Airport, to name just a few. I promise to take all these and others up.
“But two comments came up time and again, one positive and one less so. On the bright side, just about everyone thought the area a fantastic place to live (hear, hear!) and wanted to keep it that way.
“I’m afraid though that the Covid merry-making at No 10 has gone down very badly indeed, and has tarnished the reputation of local Conservatives. They surely have a long way to go to return to being the dominant political party in the area.”
The by-election gave voters a choice of three candidates, all with strong ties to the ward: Mr Munro and Mrs Ryland as long-time residents, and Mr Nasir as a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at Islamabad, Tilford.
Before the election, Waverley’s Lib Dem and Labour groups agreed not to put forward candidates, and instead supported Green Party former parish councillor Susan Ryland, as part of the council’s so-called ‘rainbow coalition’.
Waverley’s Lib Dem leader Paul Follows even joined Green Party campaigners on the campaign trail in the ward.
However, when the ballot papers were counted, the Green Party actually saw a one percentage point drop in its share of the vote compared to the 2019 local elections.
The Conservatives did suffer a heavy defeat to finish third in a previously safe seat – seeing its share of the vote drop by a huge 21 percentage points compared to 2019.
But it was independent David Munro, himself a former Tory town, borough and county councillor, who convinced voters to switch their allegiance from the Tories.
Mr Munro, 73, served as Surrey police and crime commissioner (PCC) from 2016 to 2021, the last three years as an independent having been deselected by the Conservatives in 2018. He stood as an independent candidate in the 2021 PCC election and was defeated.
He was previously elected to Waverley Borough Council and to Farnham Town Council in 1995, having been a Conservative Party activist since 1987, and to Surrey County Council in 1997, standing down shortly after being elected PCC.
Prior to local politics, he served 18 years in the Royal Engineers, rising to the rank of major.
Mr Munro has been a resident of Frensham for more than 30 years.
Frensham, Tilford & Dockenfield by-election
- Votes cast: 1,171
- Turnout: 35.9 per cent
- David Munro (Independent) – 492 votes (39 per cent/+39 swing)
- Susan Ryland (Green) – 354 votes (32 per cent/-1 swing)
- Nabeel Ahmed Nasir (Conservative) – 323 votes (29 per cent/-21 swing)
- New political balance at Waverley Borough Council: 20 Tory, 15 Farnham Residents, 15 Lib Dem, 2 Green, 2 Labour, 2 Independent, 1 vacant (Hindhead)
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