Published: 08:30, 19 November 2021
| Updated: 14:10, 19 November 2021
Voters have elected the first ever Green Party representative to Canterbury Council in a historic victory.
Clare Turnbull bagged a decisive win at the by-election in Whitstable last night after scooping more than 40% of the vote.
The new representative for Gorrell Ward, which covers the centre of the town, is the first Green Party councillor ever to be elected to the authority.
The election was triggered to find a replacement for one of Whitstable's three Labour councillors, whose resignation in September was described as a “significant blow”.
George Caffery was elected to the city council in 2019 to represent Gorrell Ward alongside Chris Cornell and Val Kenny.
His Labour colleagues say he stepped down because of his frustration with the “authoritarian route” being taken by the Conservative-led local authority.
The Liberal Democrats decided not to field a candidate in the by-election because of the “unfair nature of the first-past-the-post system”.
They encouraged supporters to vote for either the Green or Labour candidates.
Clare Turnbull (Green) earned 1,149 votes (43.9%) - 346 ahead of her closest rival, Dane Buckman (Labour), who had 30.7% of the vote share.
The Conservative Party's Stephen Spencer got 608 votes (23.2%) and the Workers Party of Britain candidate, Colin Gardner, earned 58 (2.2%).
Mum-of-two Mrs Turbull, 56, is an educational researcher and works for a charity which encourages school pupils to do real scientific research.
The Whitstable resident, who has lived in the town since 2012, was horrified by Southern Water’s “disgraceful record” so has joined SOS Whitstable’s protests and carried out citizen testing in the sea.
"The increase in visitors and house-building without infrastructure are pushing our local resources to the limit - including sewage treatment, litter collection, and parking," she said.
"Traffic levels mean our town centre is frequently congested and choking. Our sea water and our air quality are suffering."
She also wants to protect shops and small businesses, planning decisions that "enable local people to afford housing", and measures to ensure there is a balance between encouraging visitors and maintaining a "good quality of life" for Whitstable residents.