Labour win back Church Hill from UKIP

By Ian Dipple Friday 18 July 2014 Updated: 18/07 11:52

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UKIP have failed to hold on to the Church Hill seat losing out to Labour.

Voters in the district went to the polls on Thursday (July 17) to have their say in the borough council by-election triggered by the resignation of Dave Small, which is set to cost taxpayers in the region of £10,000.

Mr Small won the seat for UKIP at May's Redditch Borough Council elections but was booted out of the party days later after the Standard pointed out postings he made online which included comments branding homosexuals perverts. He resigned under pressure from the public and politicians triggering the by-election.

Labour regained the seat they lost in 2010 to the Conservatives with candidate Nina Wood-Ford polling 600 votes, almost 44 per cent of the 1,368 cast.

UKIP suffered a drop in support polling about 50 per cent less votes than in May with candidate Len Harris narrowly being pushed into third place by seven votes as Conservative candidate Kath Haslam claimed second spot on 339, down almost 22 per cent on May.

The result means Labour tighten its grip on the borough council with a majority of seven. There are now 18 Labour councillors, nine Conservatives, one UKIP and one independent.

Graham Vickery, chairman of the Redditch Labour Party, said it was difficult to draw too many conclusions from what was a unique by-election but it was a 'major triumph' for Labour.

"It's clearly too early to react to the drop in UKIP support. The special nature of the by-election with a controversial and outrageous winner [the first time around] could have effected the UKIP vote, whether that is something that carries on over the next few months remains to be seen," he said.

"Our candidate was extremely devoted to the seat and the electorate have endorsed their confidence in Labour in Redditch."

However there was some disappointment at the turnout which was just over 22 per cent. At one polling station just ten per cent of those eligible to vote did so, although 65 per cent of postal votes sent out were returned.

Mr Harris, who is also chairman of the Redditch branch of UKIP, said the low turnout had affected the result but it was not an indicator of the party's future success.

"If you look at our performance in May we had five seconds and two firsts and it's the seconds that really count because they will turn into seats later on. UKIP is going to go on and win more seats on the borough council and will have more councillors in due course."

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