Conservatives win Mendip by-election by FOUR VOTES - but Liberal Democrats remain the largest party on the council
By Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter
7th Oct 2022 | Local News
The Conservatives have won a council by-election on Somerset – by just four votes.
Voters in the Butleigh and Baltonsborough ward on Mendip District Council went to the polls on Thursday (October 6) to elect a replacement for Nigel Woollcombe-Adams, who passed away in July.
Former Somerset County Council leader Ken Maddock managed to hold the seat for the Conservatives, seeing off an incredibly close challenge from Liberal Democrat candidate and current Mendip South county councillor Claire Sully.
Despite the result, the Lib Dems remain the largest party on the district council – though the party is still short of an overall majority.
Ken Maddock, who lives in Butleigh, served as leader of Somerset County Council between 2009 and 2012, as well as representing the Mendip South division until 2013.
In the by-election, he received 393 votes compared to Claire Sully's 389.
This result comes just over a year after another very close by-election, where Stephen Griffiths won the Old Cleeve seat on Somerset West and Taunton Council for the Lib Dems by six votes in June 2021.
Ms Sully, who lived in Baltonsborough as a child but currently resides in the village of Croscombe, posted a concession message on her official Twitter feed shortly before the result was formally announced on Friday morning (October 7).
She said: "We reduced the Tory majority considerably, to just four votes. We increased our vote share by a 17 per cent swing – alas, [it was] not quite enough.
"In May I won the county council seat for Mendip South – which includes this by-election area. I will continue to work hard for all the villages I represent."
Following this by-election, the Lib Dems remain the largest party on Mendip District Council, holding 23 of the 47 seats – meaning the council remains officially under no overall control (NOC).
The Conservatives remain the largest opposition group with 12 seats, with the Greens holding ten seats and the remaining two being held by independents.
This by-election is likely to be the last one held in Somerset before the new unitary Somerset Council replaces the five existing councils in April 2023.