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Lib Dems grip in Mid Devon tightens

Saturday, 22 June 2024 08:43

By Bradley Gerrard, local democracy reporter

Liberal Democrat Adam Stirling (centre) wins Tiverton Westexe council election (Image courtesy: David Wulff/MDDC).

The have 35 of 42 council seats

Mid Devon’s Liberal Democrats have extended their majority after Adam Stirling won the Tiverton Westexe local election race.

Councillor Stirling’s win makes him the 35th Liberal Democrat councillor on Mid Devon District Council.

He secured 431 votes, ahead of nearest rival, the Conservative candidate Paul Osman, who secured 248 votes.

Independent Jason Lejeune won 182 votes and Green Party candidate Laura Buchanan took 88.

Speaking after the vote count, which also saw him win the same seat on Tiverton Town Council, Cllr Stirling thanked the volunteers who “pulled together to get my positive message out.

“I was overcome by the kindness and support I have been shown when campaigning in our community,” he said.

“Now elected, I will keep my promises to you and vow to work in the interests of all the people of Tiverton and Mid Devon and I look forward to standing up for all Westexe residents on both councils.

“I have worked hard to gain your trust and now I will work harder to retain it.”

The Tiverton Westexe district council seat became vacant after the disqualification of former councillor Jamie Frost.

One person with knowledge of Mr Frost’s situation said he had undergone major heart surgery after the May 2023 election, attended one district council meeting in early November, and then didn’t attend again.

A Mid Devon District Council spokesperson said Mr Frost was disqualified under the Local Government Act 1972, which stipulates that if a councillor doesn’t turn up for six consecutive months from the date of their last meeting, they have to be removed from the council unless they had previous approval to stay away.

The make-up of the district council now means that the Lib Dems have 35 seats, with the seven remaining seats split between the Conservatives, Green Party and an independent.

The outcome of this local election will be keenly watched given the general election is now less than two weeks away.

The town is now part of the new Tiverton and Minehead parliamentary constituency.

Cllr Stirling’s agent, Councillor David Wulff (Liberal Democrat, Tiverton Castle) said the local election win means that every district councillor in Tiverton is a Liberal Democrat, and the Conservatives have no district councillors across the parts of Mid Devon that are in the new parliamentary constituency.

Cllr Wulff added that the victory “demonstrates clearly” what volunteers had been hearing on the doorstep when canvassing.

“Tivertonians want people to represent them who live amongst them, understand their many strengths and issues, and work together with others to deliver results,” he said.

“The Conservative Party rightly continues to be punished at the ballot box for their decade of national and local chaos that has left our communities struggling to feed and house themselves or access under-funded public services.”

The candidates in the race for the Tiverton and Minehead parliamentary seat on Thursday 4 July are Jonathan Reece Barter (Labour), Laura Buchanan (Green Party), Rachel Gilmour (Liberal Democrat), Frederick Keen (Reform UK), and Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative and Unionist Party).

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