BREAKING NEWS: Tories retain seat in Fenland by election but there's a strong showing for UKIP
PUBLISHED: 01:51 29 March 2013 | UPDATED: 01:52 29 March 2013
HE may not have won yesterday's Fenland District Council by election (that went to the Conservatives) but Alan Lay pulled off the surprise of the day with a strong showing for UKIP.
Mr Lay’s campaign in the Wisbech St Mary and Parson Drove poll had opened with an attack on Conservative and Labour Party MPs allowing
“free loading immigrants” into the country.
He also found himself caught up in the crossfire over UKIP’s stance on an immigration protest planned in Wisbech for May.
His 214 votes to put him in third place was only 26 short of second place Lib Dem candidate Mary Lane in a poll which Conservative David Broker topped with 384 votes. English Democrat Maria Goldspink was fourth with 33 votes.
Watching the count was Lib Dem district councillor Dave Patrick who two years ago beat Mr Lay for a Wisbech Town Council seat, taking 50 per cent of the vote and putting his UKIP opponent into fourth place.
Cllr Patrick reflected on the resurgence of UKIP predicting that the forthcoming county council elections “could easily throw up some weird results”.
He thought it a particularly strong vote for Mr Lay who, unlike the Tory and Lib Dem candidate, does not live in the ward.
Turn out for the district seat at Wisbech St Mary was 22.8 per cent although a second poll, for a parish council vacancy, was also won by Mr Broker but with a 20.7 per cent turn out. In a two horse race he polled 287 votes to Mark Knights’ 282.
On Twitter county councillor Steve Tierney hailed the district result as a “great Conservative win. Thanks Fen folk, David Broker will be a great councillor.”
Mr Broker has lived in Parson Drove & Wisbech St Mary Ward most of his life and runs an architectural business.
The by-election was called following the sudden death of Councillor Robert Scrimshaw, 56, who had represented both villages since December 2008
Defeated candidate Mary Lane had campaigned on a platform of the “actions of the ruling Conservative group being an embarrassment to residents in Fenland”.
She had pledged to protect the district’s rural natural heritage and ensure that housing development “is sensitive to the needs of villagers”.
By comparison Mr Lay had promoted a petition against further Eastern European immigration and claimed that “this time next year many more will be eligible, ready to come from Bulgaria and other places”.