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Gravesham by-election: Tories hold onto rural seat

By Bob Bounds

A ballot boxThe Conservatives on Gravesham council have held onto Meopham North but were pushed hard by UKIP, who took second place.

The victory means a return to the council of former cabinet member John Cubitt, who lost his seat as Labour swept to power in May.

UKIP's national party leader Nigel Farage visited the village several times to urge support for his candidate, local man Geoffrey Clark.

It pitched the threat of house building on neighbouring green fields firmly into the spotlight.

The Labour candidate, Andrew Mylett, was knocked into last place behind David Gibson (Lib Dem).

The vacancy arose after Cllr Laura Hryniewicz moved to Thailand due to work.

The political battle on Gravesham will continue tonight at a scrutiny committee meeting as Labour leader Cllr John Burden and his Tory counterpart Cllr Mike Snelling go head-to-head.

The pair have clashed over a £600,000 hole in the council's budget and dire predictions of cuts in years to come.

A special council meeting next week is expected to agree a crisis action plan to tackle the cash black hole.

Result: John Cubitt (Con) 648; Geoffrey Clark (UKIP) 462; David Gibson (Lib Dem) 148; Andrew Mylett (Lab) 112. Turn out 38.2%

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