Fringe Box



Conservatives Lose Tillingbourne As Their Party Leader Loses No. 10

Published on: 21 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 24 Oct, 2022

Richard Morris (centre) winner of the Tillingbourne By-election with members of his Liberal Democrat campaign team.

By Martin Giles

The loss of a Tillingbourne Ward seat in a borough council by-election was not the biggest catastrophe for the Conservative Party yesterday, but it might show how low the Tory fortunes are in Guildford borough at the moment. Their 21 per cent of the vote matched their standing in national polls.

Richard Morris the Liberal Democrat candidate won easily with 47 per cent of the vote and his party colleagues will understandably be hoping that this augurs well for their prospects next May when the next borough council elections will be held.

Perhaps in the circumstances, with the Conservative chaos reigning at Westminster the unfortunate Tory candidate, Justin Offord, might have been relieved to secure a fifth of the votes, and perhaps he is lucky that a significant number of postal votes were cast before Liz Truss’s premiership came to its tumultuous end.

In the event, the splitting of the vote between the smaller parties made no difference: Residents for Guildford and Villages (R4GV) and the Greens mustered only 26 per cent between them, while the Labour Party’s 6 per cent showed having a good candidate is often not enough.

The newly elected councillor Richard Morris said that he was “overjoyed” with the result. “It is a resounding thumbs up for the Liberal Democrats and an indictment of the Conservatives. I am now looking forward to starting work as a councillor.”

Top of his agenda of local issues to tackle are: the environment, litter, traffic and noise pollution.

The by-election was called following the death in May of Richard Billington, a Conservative borough councillor, and former Mayor of Guildford for two years during the pandemic.

A map showing the GBC wards with Tillingbourne a large but less densely populated ward in the south east of the borough. The ward includes the villages of Gomshall, Peaslake and Shere, where the count was held.

The by-election result means there are now 17 Lib Dem councillors, 15 Residents for Guildford and Villages, eight Conservatives, four Guildford Greenbelt Group, two Labour, one Green Party, and one Independent at Guildford Borough Council.

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