More on Lib Dem win in Lovelace Ward Ripley

Colin

Colin Cross, who has been a member of Ripley Parish Council for 25 years and was a governor at both St Bede’s CofE Junior School and Ripley CofE Primary School, will now represent the ward on Guildford Borough Council.

The by-election was held because Conservative councillor John Garrett, who was elected in 2003, died in July following a serious illness.

The seat was previously a Tory stronghold and in 2011 Cllr Garrett won 70% of the vote, with Labour, on 14.5%, then pipping the Lib Dems to second place.

Although the win does not yet threaten the Conservative majority on the local authority, it re-enforces the suggestion made by council leader Stephen Mansbridge in a letter to David Cameron in February that the party may lose control of the council next May.

A Notice of Election was published in August and a by-election took place on Thursday (September 25) after the council received two requests from Lovelace ward electors.

Cllr Cross, who will now cover the areas of Wisley, Ockham and Ripley, won the majority of votes, with a total of 555.

‘Good opponent’

In a 48.17% turnout, Ben Paton, standing for the Conservative Party, won 225 votes and David Sheppard, for UKIP, won 63 votes. Robin Woof (Labour) polled 32 votes.

Cllr Cross said: “It’s fantastic. I think, in particular, the people of Ripley turned out and gave their views, I’m really pleased about that.

“Ben Paton was a good and fair opponent, and I hope he finds another seat to challenge in the election in May.

Ben Paton

“We won this election on the background of the Guildford local plan.”

The draft local plan proposes a settlement of more than 2,000 homes on the former Wisley Airfield on green belt land, which lies in the Lovelace ward.

It has been a contentious issue, with the Wisley Action Group campaigning against the possible development.

Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the draft plan going out to consultation, as the party believed there were questions over the housing target, congestion on the roads and the impact on residents’ quality of life.

Cllr Cross said: “It’s obvious to everybody in this ward that any such idea that you can just put 2,000 houses on our doorstep and expect people to agree is ridiculous and abusrd.”

Cllr Cross said he was determined to fight against the local plan and to protect Guildford’s villages and green belt land.