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SKDC ELECTIONS: Tory council leader clings on by seven votes in recount battle for survival

Matthew Lee, the leader of South Kesteven District Council, faced a battle for his political survival early this morning.

The council leader, who took control of the council two years ago, with deputy leader Kelham Cooke, came second to victorious Liberal Democrat Harrish Bisnauthsing by a mere 9 votes.

His Conservative running mate David Taylor was also a mere seven votes behind his leader.

The closeness of the result added much drama to the proceedings, with worried looks from both Matthew Lee and David Taylor.

Matthew Lee looks at the ballot papers (9569683)
Matthew Lee looks at the ballot papers (9569683)

The three candidates could be seen checking the ballot papers with returning officer, SKDC chief executive Aidan Rave.

After the recount , which ended around 3.30am, Matthew Lee said: "It was not particularly stressful. It's just that when the numbers are so close, you want to check them.

"I am pleased for Harrish but I'm disappointed for David. He's done a lot of work. I hope David continues to support a lot of the groups, particularly Shop Stamford.

Coun leader Martin Hill and council leader Matthew Lee (9570006)
Coun leader Martin Hill and council leader Matthew Lee (9570006)

While South Kesteven overall voted 60 per cent for Leave in the EU Referendum, the council leader pointed out that during that 2016 referendum,"Stamford St Mary Mary was very much for Remain."

The council leader said he had not told the media before how he voted, but "I voted to Leave. I just never commented on it."

He continued: "The European issue continues to play through local government."

"What I am really pleased about is that we are on course for a strong majority. At the moment we are only down three. We are coming down from a very high base. The work continues. We have a lot to deliver."

Harrish Bisnauthing (9569453)
Harrish Bisnauthing (9569453)

Liberal Democrat Harrish Bisnauthsing topped the poll with 626 votes, closely followed by the 617 won by Matthew Lee and David Taylor on 610, with Labour's Deborah Hughes trailing on 283.

Harrish Bisnauthsing, who is also a Stamford Town Councillor, said he wanted to thank Stamford people for their support.

"I pledge that I will continue to put Stamford and the people of Stamford first and I will always make sure we always have a voice for Stamford. I'm a Lib-Dem, we are compassionate. We like to engage people and give them a strong voice and help them achieve their full potential. I want to help our town. I want to see more social homes, council homes, built for our younger people. WE want more of them to stop in our town."

In a further boost to the Liberal Democrats, Stamford St George elected a second Liberal Democrat- Amanda Wheeler.

She jointly topped the poll with with Conservative Gloria Johnson, who was also elected with 398 votes.

Claire Campbell won 287 votes for Labour, Maxine Couch won 342 for the Conservatives and David Taylor won 190 for UKIP.

Harrish said Amanda Wheeler, who was not present at the count, will be an excellent councillor for Stamford.

"She cares passionately about shops. She shops in Stamford."

He also noted her campaigns for the UK to Remain in the EU also boosted her profile and support.

"We are for Remaining."

John and Charmaine Morgan, Edwark Clarke and Cameron Clack (9570238)
John and Charmaine Morgan, Edwark Clarke and Cameron Clack (9570238)

Earlier, Labour's relatively new group leader, Charmaine Morgan won Grantham St Vincent by topping the poll with 610 votes.

Charmaine Morgan replaced Deepings councillor Phil Dilks who chose to run as an Independent.

She said: "I think the night is going as well as could be expected. What is encouraging is that although we haven't won a lot of seats, we are drawing back."

Grantham St Vincents, she said, also saw recounts. But the remaining places were won by Conservatives Graham Jeal and Annie Mason who won 522 and 483 votes respectively.

"It shows why hard work gives us everything to play for in the future."

Charmaine Morgan continued: "Clearly as an opposition group we will do very well, to be honest. Labour is holding the town seats. We feel very much a voice for Grantham."

Asked about Phil Dilks leaving the Labour Party, she added it was "hugely disappointing."

Chairman of Grantham and Stamford Labour Party, Cameron Clack said: "But we thank him for his hard work."

Meanwhile, Independent leader Paul Wood won Viking ward by a huge majority, with wife Jane coming second and taking its second seat.

Paul won 988 votes, followed by Jane on 829. Ukip's Xandra Arundel won 124 votes, Graham Louth won 128 for Labour, Sarah Stokes won 368 votes for the Conservatives, and Claire Storer won 423 votes for the Conservatives. Sven Tasker won 118 votes for Labour.

Paul Wood said he and his wife were very pleased to represent Viking ward and they want to thank everybody.

"As Independents we will stand up for residents and not let them down. People are fed up with national parties. Both myself and my wife have lived in this ward for 30 years. We are well known and people recognised this."

In other results:

Lincrest: Sarah Jane Trotter (Con) beat Labour's Steve Welton by 564 to 200.

Isaac Newton: Conservatives Bob Adams and David Bellamy were both elected and won 627 and 576 votes, compared with Labour's Paula Tangey and Vincent Tangey who won 206 and 165 votes respectively.


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