Saturday, 23 May 2009
Adieu and buy: Ted Appleyard
Votes rise for main parties in council by-election
FEARS that the MPs' expenses scandal would drive voters away from the main political parties have not been realised in the constituency of Scunthorpe MP Eliot Morley.
Both Labour and the Tories actually saw their votes rise in the Barton by-election, which was triggered by the death of Conservative Party stalwart Ted Appleyard in March.
Tory candidate Paul Vickers took the North Lincolnshire Council seat held for 48 years by Coun Appleyard, who was the longest serving member of the authority and the town council.
Turnout also held up at more than 30 per cent.
The ward comes under the same local authority as the constituency of Morley, the former Labour minister who claimed £16,000 for interest on a mortgage he had already paid off.
He has been suspended from the parliamentary party pending sleaze watchdog investigations into the claims.
Coun Vickers said: "David Cameron is right when he calls for a general election.
"The public feel very disappointed and let down by the expenses scandal and other issues. What I have picked up from door-knocking and campaigning in Barton is that people know the only way they can change things is by voting.
"I think people are ready for a change and I'm very proud of them for coming out and voting.
"They realise their vote is important."
Conservative Alan Searle took Coun Appleyard's former seat on Barton Town Council.
The main parties did take hits in other council by-elections, however.
There were clear signs of disillusionment at Irwell Riverside in the Salford constituency of Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, who apologised last week for the handling of the sale of her London flat and handed £13,000 to the taxman to cover capital gains tax.
Labour was relieved to hold on to the seat comfortably – but its share of the vote tumbled from more than half in May last year to just over a third this time.
Tories and Liberal Democrats also saw a votes drop. The BNP was the only party to advance, by less than four per cent.
In a further sign of electors' disgust, barely one in six bothered to vote.
The Tories easily held off a Lib Dem challenge at Cottesmore, Rutland County, in the constituency of shadow Commons leader Alan Duncan, who claimed thousands of pounds for his garden before agreeing with the fees office that the spending "could be considered excessive".
Turnout there was lower at 26.4 per cent.
source: Yorkshire Post
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