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Low turnout mars Tory election win

PUBLISHED: 11:05 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:35 23 August 2010

ELECTED: Derek Shelbrooke.

ELECTED: Derek Shelbrooke.

ONLY a quarter of voters turned out as the Tories swept to a comfortable victory in a by-election. It was called only weeks before the General Election, following the death of Conservative Councillor Raymonde Collins at the end of last year. But, the el

ONLY a quarter of voters turned out as the Tories swept to a comfortable victory in a by-election.

It was called only weeks before the General Election, following the death of Conservative Councillor Raymonde Collins at the end of last year.

But, the election drew only 865 voters, with 515 opting to keep the seat blue and electing Derek Shelbrooke (pictured).

In 2007, 2,264 voters turned out to elect two Tory candidates.

Councillor Shelbrooke, who has lived in Vigo for 35 years and is a former teacher, was delighted by the result, yet concerned by the turnout. Speaking after the vote last Thursday, he said: "The campaign has been very rewarding and I have had a lot of support. I think the low turnout is from a number of things. Being so close to the General Election has an effect, but also there is a general malaise about politics."

A board member at St George's Secondary School, Mr Shelbrooke hopes to bring his educational experience to the council and vowed to restore faith in politics.

He added: "People will come back to politics and realise that a lot of people give up huge amounts of their time to do this.

"At the end of the day, someone has to run the coutry, boroughs and districts."

UK Independence party candidate Geoffrey Clark, who is also running for the party as parliamentary candidate, came second with 122 votes and the Labour and Liberal Democrats both collected 114.

Mr Clark, from Meopham, said: "I am very pleased.

"I knew wasn't going to win - this was about beginning the switch for people.

"People are often very entrenched in their views and Conservative voters were never going to switch in the first election.

"I had always aimed for second and that is what I got."

He added: "Walking around, people have told me they can't be bothered, all politicians are the same. I am trying to convince them I am different."

However, Mr Clark was criticised by Conservative council leader Mike Snelling for pushing for the by-election rather than waiting until the General Election.

He said: "Why did UKIP decide to call the by-election instead of leaving it to be combined with a General Election, thus inflicting additional costs of several thousand pounds?"

"I would have much preferred to spend this cash on additional youth facilities within the ward or borough as a whole.

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