There is a by-election for two vacant seats on Much Wenlock Town Council, with the poll to be held on Thursday 10th May.
Much Wenlock, along with many other local councils, has not attracted sufficient interest at elections for there to be a contest too often. 2007 was the last time that fixed-term elections drew a contest, when twelve candidates fought for eleven seats. In both 2013 and 2017, the number of nominations fell short of the complement of eleven councillors and the Town Council co-opted folk who had expressed an interest in order to make up the numbers.
“Casual vacancies” (councillors resigning between fixed-term elections) have also frequently failed to attract many candidates – which is why the current contested by-election should prove interesting to those who follow such matters.
There was a by-election in March 2009, when David Turner, now County Councillor for Much Wenlock, won a seat vacated by Nick Mitchell, with 65% of the vote.
The next contested election was in November 2011, following the resignation of Anna Dugdale. Mary Hill, still a Town Councillor today, won the seat with 62% of the vote. Many months had elapsed since the seat was vacated, with no candidates stepping forward. The apathy was mirrored in the unusually low turn-out of 12.3%.
Next up was the vacancy caused by the resignation of Sally Chapman only twelve months after the 2013 election. Paul Laming was elected in her place with 69% of the vote.
Finally, following the “disqualification”* of Richard Kitchen in January 2015, Mike Grace defeated Graham Venning (the current mayor, subsequently elected unopposed) at a by-election in March 2015, with 69% of the vote.
So, with three candidates for the two vacant seats, the next four weeks may be interesting, and will mean the hopefuls will have a bit of legwork to do drumming up support.
* This “disqualification” was a hotly-debated topic, and one where many believed the Town Council to have been wrongly advised. More of this in the coming weeks.