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Home Canterbury News Article
The Liberal Democrats have snatched a seat from the Tories on Canterbury City Council after winning yesterday's Barham Downs by-election.
But the candidate was unable to celebrate with his party supporters at the count because he is on holiday.
Instead the result was relayed by mobile phone to Mike Sole who is in the Scilly Isles with his family, having booked the holiday before the by-election was called.
However, the Conservatives still hold onto a commanding 18 seat majority in the council chamber.
The by-election was held following the death of Conservative councillor Cllr Bill Oakey last December.
Lib Dem candidate Mike Sole won with 337 votes - 52 more than Tory hopeful Stuart Walker.
But Cllr Sole, who has previously represented Wincheap on the city council, wasn't at the count to witness his success. Instead the 46-year-old accountant was on a family holiday in the Scilly Isles which had been booked well before the by-election was called.
UKIP candidate Dave De Boick was third with 164 votes - but celebrated the biggest gain in share.
Labour's David Wilson was fourth with 78 votes leaving the Green Party candidate in last place with just 40 votes.
But nearly 60% of those eligible to vote did not bother.
Liberal Democrat leader on the city council, Cllr Alex Perkins said: "You don't win a by-election on the day of the count and Mike had done an enormous amount of the work in the weeks leading up to the by-election.
"He is a kind, hard-working man whose expertise as an accountant will be welcome.
"But the outcome was also a referendum on council leader John Gilbey who lives in the ward and with who voters are clearly unhappy with."
Council leader John Gilbey said: "It was always going to be close. But in our opinion the wrong man won. Stuart Walker would have made an excellent councillor.
"There is no doubt UKIP split the vote but they have absolutely no local policies at all."
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