William Eichler 09 September 2019

High Court overturns Highworth election result

Swindon Borough Council has welcomed a High Court decision to overturn an election which saw the wrong candidate elected as a councillor.

Highworth, near Swindon, had a voting population of around 6,400 before the town council poll in May and only 2,477 ballot papers were issued.

However, over 40,000 votes were counted with each of the 10 Conservative candidates polling more than 3,000 votes.The Tory candidate Pauline Webster was declared the winner.

A legal challenge was immediately launched by the independent candidate Ken Smith who argued block votes for the Conservative candidates had been counted for each of them, rather than split between them.

The High Court has overturned the election result and the independent candidate Kim Barber has replaced Ms Webster.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said that the council was ‘pleased’ with the decision and would learn from the error to ensure it was not repeated.

‘We’re pleased the High Court has ratified the recounted town council election results as it brings to an end what has been an unsettling time for candidates and councillors in Highworth,’ they said.

‘We have carried out a thorough lessons learned exercise in the wake of May’s local elections to ensure this does not happen again,’ the spokesperson added.

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