Racist row Tory loses Midhurst election

Tory councillor John Cherry who found himself at the centre of a race row at the height of the county council election campaign has lost his seat.

Despite being forced to resign from the party, election law dictated his name remained on the ballot paper as the Conservative candidate.

John Cherry, Con, Midhurst

John Cherry, Con, Midhurst

He was absent from the polling stations yesterday but Mr Cherry was at the count today to hear he had been defeated by Independent candidate Gordon McAra who took the seat by 122 votes.

Mr McAra topped the poll in an election where six candidates had battled it out.

Pamela Hayton for UKIP who described herself as a ‘paper candidate’ only, before the election came third with 549 votes.

Mr Cherry who only over the Midhurst county council seat last November at a by-election, left the count without comment.

Mr McAra said: “This is a great result for local democracy. Despite all the controversy people have voted for somebody who works for their local community.

“By my winning I think we have avoided several years of controversy which would have been the case if John Cherry had won. But now everyone can move on. I crunched the numbers after the polls closed last night and estimated that I had a majority of 120 - and I was two votes out. However the turnout was miserable - 31 per cent - and this isn’t the way democracy should operate, especially with the wide range of candidates including two strong Independents.”

Fernhurst’s sitting councillor Tory Michael Brown was returned polling 1350 votes.

Second in the four way fight was UKIP’s Andrew Moncreiff.

And at Petworth Tory Janet Duncton swept to victory taking the seat vacated by her husband Chris who retired before the election.

Continuing a trend throughout the county, UKIP’s Julian Batchelor was runner up with 809 votes.

UKIP spokesman Bernard Smith, who has become one of the party’s ten new county councillors said: “I’m a bit over-awed. We’ve come second every time.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge. We are getting to the stage now where they have got to take in to account what the party has to say, and the public has to listen to us.”