The undoubted highlight of election day so far has been the election for Ilminster Division. Not least because South Somerset District Council Leader Val Keitch was standing for the LibDems. Elsewhere in the SSDC area, the Libdems have been taking seat after seat even in usually safe Conservative areas. Notably Blackmoor Vale.
Ilminster is a split seat with the town usually voting LibDem and the countryside around tending to be Conservative. previously Linda Vijeh was Conservative County Councillor and Val Keitch Lib Dem District Councillor. Matters are complicated by the fact that Cllr Keitch has had to answer difficult questions about corrupt practises at the council. She even faced a vote of no confidence in February this year. Albeit she won the vote comfortably as it split down party lines.
As the morning progressed, it was obvious that things were tight. The count was concluded and a recount called. The recount only led to a second recount. It rapidly became clear that Sue Osborne, the Conservative candidate had come first. But there was a battle royal going on for second place.
In the end Cllr Keitch survived, taking the second available seat for Ilminster by just 5 votes.
The full result was as follows:
- 1,494 Sue Osborne (Conservative)
- 1,397 Val Keitch (LibDem)
- 1,392 Jo Woodcock (Conservative)
- 1,384 Ray Buckler (LibDem)
- 425 Roger Bradley (Green)
- 342 Karin Cumming (Green)
- 227 Paul Sellers (Labour)