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Langport by-election labelled a 'waste of money' after poor turnout

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

Julie Taylor was elected to serve on Langport Town Council in the town’s first by-election for a decade

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Langport's first by-election in a decade has been slammed as “a waste of money” after just 137 people turned out to vote.

Julie Taylor was elected to serve on Langport Town Council with a total of 63 votes, Lynn Glenister missed out with 42 votes and Marlene Buchy received 32 votes.

The election, which took place last week, was held at the request of 13 electors.

The turnout was just 15.66 per cent of the electorate in Langport, which a South Somerset District Council spokeswoman said “is particularly low for a town/parish council by-election”.

Then, just days after the election, it was announced that two councillors, James Morris and Duncan Pyle had tendered their resignations, citing pressure of the work, so the council now has another two vacancies to fill.

Chairman of the town council, Chris Osborne, said the election, which cost the council, and therefore the taxpayer, nearly £800, was a waste.

He said: “I said right from the start it was a waste of money.”

He said he didn’t believe the poor turnout was due to a lack of transparency by the council but a lack of interest by voters.

He said: “We hold a public council meeting once a month, the clerk is in the council office twice a week, and all our councillors are on the end of a phone. We can meet anybody at any time.

“I just don’t think people are really interested in local politics. How many people have actually been to a town council meeting?

“If people think something is wrong they will be there, so either people are not interested or they are happy with the way things are.”

Mr Osborne added: “Julie Taylor has been elected by the people of the town so congratulations to her. I hope she will be a good asset to the council.”

Ms Taylor said: “I’m really pleased and delighted to have won. I was surprised at first but I would really like to thank everyone who came out to vote. I just hope I will be able to join the team and bring my expertise to the table. I want to listen to the people of Langport and spread the news about what the town council does.”

She said the cost of the election was unavoidable as “that is how much democracy costs”.

The election was called after former councillor Eve Kerswill resigned.

Normally Langport Town Council co-opts members, meaning existing councillors vote on candidates, but this time an election was called after 13 electors requested it.

By law, South Somerset District Council will hold an election if at least 10 electors ask for one.

The election cost Langport Town Council just under £800 and the district council is yet to confirm the final costs.

It is not yet known if Lynn Glenister and Marlene Buchy will put themselves forward for the two current council vacancies, but if electors request it there could be another election.

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