THERE was high drama at last week’s Morpeth Town Council by-election as there was a dead heat between two of the candidates.
After Liberal Democrat Edward Hillier and Conservative Julian Brett both received 260 votes for the vacant seat in the Kirkhill ward, lots were drawn to decide the winner and Coun Hillier was the lucky man.
The Loansdean resident is aiming to connect with the younger generation in his new position, whilst Mr Brett hailed the result as another step forward for his party in Morpeth.
Coun Hillier, a 35-year-old teacher, said: “It was absolutely nerve-wracking when the results were read out and the drawing of lots was akin to a penalty shoot out at a World Cup.
“I was very pleased when my name was drawn out, although it puts the pressure on me to be a good councillor and get re-elected in May 2013.
“This is my first foray into politics. I’ve been a member of Morpeth Liberal Democrats for a few years and I’m aware of what councillors are doing in the town and I thought that I could give a slightly different flavour to council meetings as I’m a bit younger than the other members.
“My main interest is to see community facilities thrive, from community centres to children’s playgrounds. I will also be aiming to stimulate interest in politics, particularly among younger people.”
He has a link to the school in his ward as two of his three children with wife Elanor attend Abbeyfields First School.
One of the cornerstones of Mr Brett’s campaign was the Conservative plan to abolish parking charges for residents of Morpeth and Northumberland.
He said: “This election result proves that Morpeth residents are increasingly turning to the Conservatives for local representation.
“In 2008, the Lib Dems won 74 per cent of the vote in this area, but now local people are looking again at the Conservatives and our policies. I am very grateful to everyone who voted for me and to those who helped with my campaign.”
In June 2011, Dave Herne became Morpeth’s first Conservative town councillor after a shock by-election victory in the South ward.
The other candidate in the Kirkhill ward by-election, which was needed following the resignation of Jonathan Ferstenberg, was Labour’s Carol Butler. She received 148 votes.