Telford by-elections lead to raft of new councillors

Newly-elected councillors will take their place in town and village halls in the coming weeks, and say they have a “long list of concerns” to raise after a very different election campaign.

A host of Telford seats have been decided in by-elections
A host of Telford seats have been decided in by-elections

Neither Telford & Wrekin Council nor its towns and parishes saw an all-out election on May 6, but 10 lower-tier seats were available following the resignations or deaths of incumbents.

Conservative Jenny Urey, who won a seat in Muxton with nearly treble the votes of her only opponent, said she was “overwhelmed” by the voters’ support in her town of birth.

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Labour Party winners in two wards disagreed about whether in-person campaigning was appropriate during the pandemic.

Crispin Barker, who won a town council ward in Wellington, said he believed in “walking and talking” as it built a “sustainable relationship” with voters, while Christopher Plumley, now serving on The Gorge Parish Council, said door-knocking seemed “irresponsible” and said he was still able to engage with voters online.

Donnington and Muxton Parish Council then-chairman Philip Loughlin resigned his Muxton ward seat earlier this year and fellow Conservative Jenny Urey won the resulting by-election.

“Muxton is my home,” she said. “I was born here 48 years ago and love it here.

“I’ve worked with many wonderful neighbours and residents on issues over the past few years. I wanted to do even more, so stood for the parish council, encouraged by a number of people.

“Resident feedback is key and, following hundreds of discussions, I already have a long list of concerns to raise with the parish council, now as part of the team.”

Mr Plumley moved to Ironbridge in 2013, and said his family had found it the perfect place to bring up a young daughter.

“I’ve also been working from home for the last year, so having access to the wonderful green space has really helped us through this difficult time,” he said.

A by-election was called in the Ironbridge Gorge ward of The Gorge Parish Council after the resignation of independent incumbent Garreth Anderson. Mr Plumley said he took the opportunity to stand to support the area.

Issues

Lower-tier councils have limited powers compared to Telford & Wrekin Council but “can be a very helpful starting point to raise and escalate issues”, he said.

“A few people have asked why, as a candidate, I haven’t been out knocking on doors and campaigning," he added.

“I thought it a bit irresponsible during the restrictions; it’s a big place and there’s only me, it’s not practical with a young child so I thought I’d engage through the local Facebook group.

“I made a point of engaging and discussing issues rather than campaigning at the electorate.

“I think that proved to be the right thing and hit the right note.”

Mr Barker, who was elected to represent Wellington Town Council’s Haygate ward, however, said he was “not a fan of social media”.

“I very much believe in “walking and talking” – being seen and having time to listen to people,” he said.

“I want to build sustainable relationships with voters – not just ask them if they’re voting Labour. It’s also important to have good campaigning literature.”

He thanked all the voters who took part in the election – called after Labour representative Frank Burns passed away just over a year ago – and said he wanted to help make Wellington a more vibrant town.

“I have made an effort in this direction for quite a few years now although obviously lockdown hasn’t helped,” he said.

He added that a belief in democracy and “a desire to make a positive difference with regard to education and the environment” were his motivations for standing.

Full results:

  • Apley Castle (Hadley and Leegomery Parish Council): Stuart Parr (Con), 509; Lily Bennett (Lab), 382; Thomas King (Ind), 79; Stephen Daniels (LD), 33.

  • Aqueduct (Dawley Hamlets Parish Council): Sam Deakin (Con), 563; Ian Preece (Lab), 465; Cathy Salter (LD), 46.

  • Dawley Hamlets (Dawley Hamlets Parish Council): Jayne Greenaway (Con), 533; Erin Aston (Lab), 198; Archie Barnett (LD), 171.

  • Donnington West (Donnington and Muxton Parish Council) (Two seats available): Thomas Hoof (Con), 648; Michael Rowe (Lab), 537; Brett Murray (Con), 532; Philip Norton (Lab), 476; David Ellams (LD), 115.

  • Haygate (Wellington Town Council): Crispin Barker (Lab), 436; Andrew Benion (Con), 331; Tim Wills (Ind), 49; Joshua Bailey (LD), 43.

  • Ironbridge Gorge (The Gorge Parish Council): Christopher Plumley (Lab), 517; Sarah Greenow (Con), 246; Paul Bryant (LD), 34.

  • Stirchley (Stirchley and Brookside Parish Council) (Two seats available): Tammy Wood (Con), 317; Harvey Unwin (Con), 308; Vanessa Holt (Lab), 273; Helena Morgan (Lab), 246; Connor Furnival (Ind), 133; Simon Maydew (LD), 70; Narayan Pathak (LD), 28.

  • Muxton (Donnington and Muxton Parish Council): Jenny UREY (Con), 1,348; Christine Lord (Lab), 463.

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