Who said politics is boring? At last, two of our villages were given the opportunity on May 7 to vote for someone standing not for a political party, but just for them. And boy, did they grasp the chance!
Charlie Hotham told us he was “surprised and delighted” to take the new Barnt Green and Hopwood Ward with almost twice the votes garnered by Conservative candidate Mike Webb.
So were we! After all these years of watching Bromsgrove elections, it is heartening to know that a blue rosette does not guarantee votes.
As an independent village resident, Charlie won by pledging he would try to knock down the barriers between the people he represents and the actions they want the council to take on their behalves.
Clearly his message got through and he swept aside a well-known Bromsgrove Cabinet member, by 1,066 votes to 429.
We wish him well and will be following his term with interest to see if it is indeed possible to make independent progress at Bromsgrove.
Perhaps in four years’ time, his success, and that of the independents who stood in Hagley, may encourage all of those who thought about standing this time to throw their hats into the ring.
An independent Bromsgrove in 2019 is a lot nearer reality now thanks to the voters of Barnt Green and Hopwood.
Meanwhile, there is a great deal to be gleaned from the spoilt ballot paper figures.
In the new Alvechurch Village Ward, where there were three candidates standing, 22 papers were rejected and in Barnt Green & Hopwood, where there were just the two, 26 papers were considered spoiled.
In the new Alvechurch South Ward, again with just two candidates, the Tory June Griffiths and UKIP’s Liz Irving, there were 155 spoilt papers – around ten per cent of the total number of acceptable votes.
To put this into perspective, in the Bromsgrove Parliamentary election, where 52,426 votes were cast (16,529 for Sajid Javid) there were only 173 spoilt ballot papers – less than half a per cent of the total.
For ten per cent of voters to signify they didn’t want to vote for either candidate, and to take the effort to go to the polling station to make their protest known, something was clearly wrong in Alvechurch South.
Whether it was the lack of choice or the candidates themselves, we will never know – but we hope that in 2019 those villagers will have someone, perhaps an independent, they will feel able to vote for.