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More of the same for Canterbury

The city remains a sea of blue with a smattering of yellow, as all Canterbury councillors retained their seats in the county elections.

Despite big changes elsewhere, the Tories held onto four divisions, with Liberal Democrat Martin Vye clinching the fifth.

But there were nervous scenes at the count in the King’s Hall in Herne Bay on Friday as UKIP won an unprecedented number of seats.

Tory Michael Northey held onto the Canterbury South East seat with a 1,385 vote majority. He said:

“I’m very happy and pleased. It’s the result of a great deal of hard work. I’ve done my best to serve over the past and I’m very grateful for the vote of confidence.”

Close behind Mr Northey was Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Sole, who secured 1,181 votes. He said he was “disappointed” but added:

“On a city council level, the Lib Dems are very strong. We’re getting closer and closer at county level each time.”

Meanwhile, victorious Tory Graham Gibbens said his stance on two local issues helped him win. He polled 1,207 votes for Canterbury North East, beating Labour’s Michael Bland, with 768 votes, into second. Mr Gibbens said:

“Elections are always nerve-racking and I do feel relieved now. It was a pleasing result and I think people appreciated my views on Westgate Towers and Kingsmead field.”

In Canterbury West, Tory John Simmonds received 1,067 votes to retain his seat, beating David De Boick from UKIP’s 633 votes. He said:

“I’m ecstatic and delighted that people have supported me. It’ll be an interesting administration. I look forward to holding newly elected councillors to account and making sure they deliver on their promises.”

Mr De Boick said despite missing out on the seat, he was “very pleased” with the result.

Elsewhere, in Herne and Sturry, Alan Marsh became the only Conservative left standing in Herne Bay after UKIP took the rest of the seats. He polled 41% of the votes with 1,452, beating UKIP’s Sarah Larkins into second place with 1,086.

The UKIP vote amounted to almost a third of the total votes cast, with 17% for Labour, six% for the Green Party and five% for the Liberal Democrats.

There was a sigh of relief from Martin Vye, who remains the district’s only Liberal Democrat county councillor after securing 1,555 votes to take the Canterbury South West division. Mr Vye said:

“I’m very pleased indeed that the electors of the division have placed their trust in me. I will endeavour to make sure their trust isn’t misplaced. UKIP came as a great surprise to me. Voters weren’t talking about UKIP on the doorstep but clearly, there is a feeling that ordinary people aren’t being listened to. We have to address that.”

Voter turn out was just 28.5% across the district.

Overall, the Tories retained their majority on the council, the composition of which is now: Conservative 45 (-29), UKIP 17 (+17), Labour 13 (+11), Lib Dem 7 (no change), Green 1 (+1), Residents Association 1 (+1), Independent 0 (-1).

thisiskent 10th May 2013

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