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03rd May 2019

Tory councillor wins seat by one single spoiled ballot with ‘Brexit’ scrawled on it

Wil Jones

Independent candidate Kevin Painter has demanded a recount

A Cotswold District Council seat was won by a single vote of a spoiled ballot with Brexit written on it.

Conservative candidate Stephen Hirst won the Tetbury Town ward by 232 to 231 – but the deciding ballot did not actually have a cross on it. Instead, ‘Brexit’ was scrawled on it, with an arrow pointing to Hirst’s name.

The ballot was originally judged ‘doubtful’ until the Returning Officer chose to award one additional vote to Hirst.

Hirst beat independent candidate Kevin Painter, who is furious with the decision.

“It is more Blackadder than anything else,” he told The Gloucestershire Echo. “The rules are quite simply you have to put a cross in the box. I am absolutely stunned by the response. The rules now make me doubt the integrity of our elections.”

Cotswold District Council, however, have defended the decision, saying they adhered to “the guidance contained in the Electoral Commission’s booklet on doubtful papers and examples in election law books.”

Kevin Painter now says he will now take his case to court to demand a recount.

Both major parties suffered serious losses in this week’s local elections.

The Conservatives lost over 1,200 seats across the country.

Labour’s losses were far lower but still significant, seeing 83 seats slip away.

The Liberal Democrats saw massive gains, with 659 seats coming under their control.