Swale Borough Council:
Murston ward - two councillors
Nick Williams (Labour) 482
Ed Gent (Conservative) 420*
Dave Banks (Liberal Democrat) 420
Paul Williams (Labour) 369
Keith Nevols (Liberal Democrat) 236
(Nick Williams and Ed Gent elected)
*settled by drawing of lots.
A very long election day was followed by a longer than expected day at the count which started at 9am and didn’t finish until gone 6.30pm. Murston was the last result to call mainly due to the fact that seven (!) recounts were needed to decide on the second place. Firstly, Ed Gent was one vote up, then Dave by one, then it was even. Then another table took over. After three more counts showing the vote at 420 each, the returning officer declared a tie and put two names into a box – and drew out Ed’s!
This was a very disappointing way for Dave to end his eight year tenure as a Murston councillor and the good work he has put in over the years. We concentrated the campaign on local issues but sadly it was national issues that decided – Labour focusing a negative campaign around Nick Clegg, and too many people unable to tell the difference along with the Conservative vote surprisingly holding up. This was a pattern repeated across the country where good councillors were lost because of the national party’s blunders (of which more another time).
As for me, considering the many hundreds of hours I have sent in Murston over the last two years, talking to people, helping Dave on local issues, leafleting, canvassing, attending meetings, helping where I can etc, I was very disappointed to come fifth with barely a third of the votes from last year. I can safely say that I won’t be working in Murston again and hope that over the next four years that Nick and Ed take care of Murstonians at least half as well as Dave did.
The Swale elections overall were also disappointing. Virtually all Swale’s councillors retained their seats, so the Tories kept their healthy although slightly reduced majority. The main exception was that we lost our leader, Elvie, after 24 years in the chamber – all sides agreed she had been an excellent councillor over the years and her loss is a major blow. The final scores were Con 32 (down one), Lab 13 (up three), Lib Dems 1 (down two) and one Independent (no change). The Conservatives look set to dominate Swale council for many more years to come – which is bad news for all of us.
Coming soon: my story of the campaign, the highs (if I can remember any) and the lows.