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West Berkshire Green councillor finishes third in Chesham and Amersham by-election as Lib Dems secure shock win

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WEST Berkshire Green councillor Carolyne Culver finished third in the Chesham and Amersham by-election last week as the Liberal Democrats secured a stunning majority.

Ms Culver (Ridgeway) secured 3.9 per cent of the total 38,009 votes, finishing behind Lib Dem candidate Sarah Green (56.7 per cent) and Conservative Peter Fleet (35.5 per cent), but ahead of Labour’s Natasa Pantelic (1.6 per cent.)

Ms Culver’s result means she loses her £500 deposit, for which you need five per cent of the result to retain.

(L-R) Alan Booth, Catherine Bunting, Carolyne Culver, Douglas Silverstone, Steve Masters (48439235)
(L-R) Alan Booth, Catherine Bunting, Carolyne Culver, Douglas Silverstone, Steve Masters (48439235)

The result was an unexpected win for the Liberal Democrats after Ms Green overturned a Conservative majority of 16,000 in a seat that’s been blue since its creation in 1974.

The by-election was called earlier this year after the death of Conservative MP Dame Cheryl Gillan in April.

Reflecting on the result, Ms Culver said: “We were obviously disappointed that we lost our deposit and didn’t get a higher percentage but any by-election is difficult.

“Major parties pour in all their resources so there were a lot of Liberal Democrats on the ground.

“Our objective was to highlight the HS2 issue and that’s what we did.

“We got the issue on the agenda and the local parties started talking about it.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s about the issues – they come before the parties and the elections.”

Ms Green came out against HS2 despite the Liberal Democrat’s official policy being to support the railway, which will cost more than £105bn after Covid-19 delays put further strain on the project.

Ms Culver added: “My concern is the Liberal Democrats are flip-flopping on that issue.

“Their manifesto said it should go ahead, and now Sarah Green has said she’s against it – which is great, but now they have to deliver on that.

“Ed Davey will be under pressure to reverse the Liberal Democrat policy on it.”

Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Newbury, Lee Dillon, said the result was another sign the Conservative’s ‘Blue Wall’ in the south was crumbling.

He said: “I'm delighted to see Sarah Green elected and I have passed on my congratulations to her.

“This result is a further demonstration, following the local election results both here in Newbury and elsewhere, that the Conservatives' southern 'Blue Wall' is beginning to crumble to the Liberal Democrats.

“If this result is mirrored in Newbury at the next General Election, then Newbury will once again have a Liberal Democrat MP.

“Across the south, voters are fed up of being taken for granted by the Conservatives and not being listened to.

“We saw that in the recent Clay Hill by-election and we have now seen it at a parliamentary level in Chesham and Amersham.

“In both Clay Hill and Chesham and Amersham people have put their faith in the Liberal Democrats to stand up for their communities. With the Tories not listening and Labour and the Greens both far behind in Newbury, voters here should do the same."

The vote was also a low point for Labour’s Natasa Pantelic who, with 1.6 per cent of the vote, beat Labour’s previous nadir - Steve Billcliffe’s 2 per cent in the 1993 Newbury by-election.

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