Fed-up voters blamed for low poll turn-out

New Waterloo councillor Derek Robertson and some of his supporters.
New Waterloo councillor Derek Robertson and some of his supporters.
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A feeling of disillusionment has been blamed for a disappointing turn-out at Blackpool’s latest by-election.

Just 22 per cent of the electorate voted on Thursday as residents went to the polls to elect a new councillor in Waterloo ward.

The average turn-out for the whole of Blackpool during the last full local elections in 2011 was 37.4 per cent.

Hotelier Derek Robertson retained the seat for the Conservatives after an election following the death of Coun Tony Lee in July.

Susanne Johnson, who owns a haberdashery shop on Bond Street, and represents a clutch of other small businesses in the area, said she thought many people failed to vote because they did not feel part of the community.

She said: “We have a lot of people who live in HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and they feel disenfranchised and are not really interested in politics.

“People are disillusioned and think politicians are all the same. I think a lot of people aren’t even on the electoral register.

“But it is important people have their say. I voted, and I know Derek’s heart is in the right place and he will be committed to the area.”

Mr Robertson said: “I think the weather put people off, but also I spoke to many people who didn’t know how to vote.

“Some people living in HMOs thought it was up to their landlord to register them to vote.”

He said he hoped to carry on the work of Coun Lee, who he worked with on a number of projects in the ward.

Mr Robertson added: “I only have seven months as a councillor before the next elections, but I am looking forward to starting work straight away and then being re-elected for a further four years.

“I particularly want to thank my team of workers who helped me.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group, said: “I think the tide is fortunately turning.

“There is a new and forward thinking Conservative group in Blackpool, and I believe the people of Waterloo have realised Derek Robertson is both a man they can trust and someone who will represent them better than all others.

“Derek joins and he represents a new group of like-minded people who are determined to sweep away policies of self-indulgent initiatives and concentrate on investment and jobs for the town.

“This focus, together with a respect of every resident who has contributed to Blackpool, is the only way to solve all the other issues we are fighting.”

There was controversy when UKIP was accused of breaking protocol by calling the by-election just months before full elections are held in Blackpool next year.

It was the eighth by-election in Blackpool since Labour took control of the town hall in 2011, with Labour winning all the previous seven

Mr Robertshaw was elected after receiving 406 votes, ahead of UKIP’s John Braithwaite, with 372 votes.

Labour were just behind with 347 votes Alifor Kathy Ellis, while Mike Hodkinson (Liberal Democrat) received 34 votes, and Jack Renshaw (British National Party) received 17 votes.