The Frome Market Ward by-election held last night (15.3.2018) saw the ruling Independents for Frome (IfF) retain their seat and their 100% control of the Town Council but the real story of the night was the 43% increase in the Labour vote propelling their candidate Neil Burns into second place while Tory and Lib Dem votes crumbled, making Labour the alternative choice for Frome.
IfF candidate Mark Dorrington took 53% of the vote and on a reduced turnout of only 21% (down from the 61% of the 2015 election) meant the IfF vote had dropped by 4% ,which could hardly be seen as an indication of the massive community engagement promised in the new politics of the ‘Independent’ Town Council.
The Tory vote dropped by 22% and they dropped from 2nd to 3rd place while the LibDem vote continued to plummet a further 8% leaving them in last place.
Independents looking ‘IfFy’
Labour candidate Neil Burns said “I am very happy with the campaign that we ran and the positive return we received in the ward. This is a platform for us to get more Labour voices on our town council next year.”
Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for the Somerton and Frome Constituency ,Sean Dromgoole, who increased the Labour vote in the 2017 election by 10%, said “It’s a good result but not the one we wanted.On the ground the IfFys still have a lot of support amongst all non-Tory voters. The Greens, who didn’t stand a candidate but who are strong in Frome, suggested that their supporters got behind the IfFys. Some of ours are also persuaded that at the town level, national party politics gets in the way. We took trouble to position ourselves as engaged, open, non-obstructive but distinctive. We made a good case for a Labour voice on the Frome Town Council, and that has gained some traction, but not enough yet. We work on.
The Liberal Democrats embarrassed themselves horribly by using a flyer that had the “look and feel” of an IfFy flier, and whose only mention of Liberal Democrats was hidden away in 6 point type. Comes to something when you think your best chance of being elected its to pretend to be someone else. They were beaten in to 4th place by the Tories paper candidate. This in the town that regularly used to return David Heath (LD) to parliament.
In some ways the most important elections are the District Council ones to come. We now have a cracking team in Frome, lots of committed activists up for the work and of course the IfFys won’t be fielding candidates.
Final congratulations have to go to Neil Burns, our candidate. He took our vote up from 8% in 2015 to 20% last night. He fought a clean, clear, noisily Labour campaign. He worked hard and a lot of people enjoyed working with him. We have great hopes for Neil in the future.”
Frome Town Council Market Ward By Election 15.3.2018 Result
Mark Dorrington IfF 325 (53%)
Neil Burns Labour 125 (20%)
Elizabeth John Conservative 89 (14%)
Drew Gardner LibDem 75 (12%)