East Devon elects new councillor in the Exe Valley

Two men stood in building

Lib Dem leader Jamie Kemp, pictured right - Credit: LDRS

The Liberal Democrats have held on to their seat in a closely fought by-election for the Exe Valley ward on East Devon District Council.

With a turnout of 26 per cent, the winner, Jamie Kemp, received 190 votes, seeing off the Conservatives' Kevin Wraight, who received 164 votes, and Labour’s candidate, Mike Daniel, who earned 161.  One voter made their opinion well known by spoiling their ballot with sad faces drawn next to each candidate. 

Mr Kemp is expected to join the council’s ruling coalition, the Democratic Alliance, a combination of the East Devon Alliance, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Labour and some, but not all, independents.

He picks up the reins from fellow Liberal Democrat Fabian King who stepped down as a councillor in July to focus on his business, which he said had been affected by Covid.

Speaking after the result, Mr Kemp said: “I’m over the moon. It’s been a fantastic campaign, the other candidates have worked really hard. It’s a win really for everybody in the Exe Valley and I look forward to representing them. 

“And, yes, now my wife probably won’t moan at me quite so much – and the children won’t be as annoyed with me!"

Conservative candidate Mr Wraight said: “I’m disappointed, obviously. I wanted to win but it’s a fair fight. It’s been a good campaign and three extremely good, strong candidates."

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Labour candidate Mike Daniel also commented on the result. He said:  “I’m more than chuffed with it."

The make-up of the council is now as follows: 

Conservatives (22)

East Devon Alliance (13)

Independents (14)

Liberal Democrats (7)

Green Party (2)

Labour (2)

spolit ballot paper

One voter wasn't feeling democratic. - Credit: LDRS

The Exe Valley vote was the third EDDC by-election in recent months. Polls were previously held in May and July this year. 

The July by-elections returned some surprises as Conservative Alasdair Bruce took Feniton, previously held by an independent, and teenager Jake Bonetta won Honiton St Michael’s.

The 19-year old took the seat previously held by the Liberal Democrats to become the first Labour councillor on the district council in more than 20 years. Since his election, formerly independent councillor Paul Millar (Exmouth Halsdon) joined Labour, giving the party two seats.