Town council gets first Tory

MORPETH Town Council has its first ever Conservative member after a shock by-election result.

Bus driver Dave Herne won the vacant South Ward seat on Thursday by just 12 votes.

The area was considered to be a safe Liberal Democrat seat following landslide wins for the party in previous county and town elections, but Coun Herne is delighted to upset the balance.

“It is the first time I have stood for election so I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said.

“The Liberal Democrats had a majority of about 78 per cent of the vote before so I knew it was going to be hard, but the result at the end was incredible.”

The election attracted a 33 per cent turnout, with Coun Herne receiving 258 votes. Liberal Democrat candidate Edward Hillier had 246 votes, Carol Butler for Labour took 130 and Green candidate Ron Forster received 120.

A re-count was called due to the close result.

Coun Herne, who has lived in Morpeth since the age of five, is married to Karen and has a nine-year-old son Adam.

The 42-year-old puts his success down to a strong campaign, which focused on the unequal parking charge system in place across Northumberland.

“I think there should be fair charges throughout the county and I believe strongly in that,” he said.

“Parking was a big issue for the people I spoke to. Everyone said ‘why should Morpeth subsidise the rest of the county?’”

He added: “I’m looking forward to my new role. I just want to be able to help the people in my ward.

“I would like to thank all of the residents of the ward, especially those who voted for me.

“I would also like to thank my campaign team, who worked tremendously over the past few months.”