IT WASN’T exactly a bolt from the blue when Returning Officer Ray Morgan announced the Conservative candidate had won the former Liberal Democrat seat at the by-election on Tuesday night.
Mohammed Rashid came out top in the battle for the vacant Maybury and Sheerwater ward post with 1,057 votes to Labour’s Stephen Tudhope’s 833.
Leaving a gaping hole behind them, UKIP candidate Neil Willetts notched up 255 votes, leaving the Lib Dems’ Norman Johns – perhaps unsurprisingly – trailing with 252.
Despite a dark cloud hanging over the ward since the election fraud debacle of 2012, the pouring rain didn’t deter an unexpectedly high turnout of 32.9 per cent.
Seven per cent of votes were rejected at the count.
Presiding over proceedings as the votes were tallied at the HG Wells Centre was council chief executive Mr Morgan.
Woking MP Jonathan Lord said: “I think all four parties worked hard and were putting out literature and knocking on doors.
“There is the major issue of the Sheerwater regeneration, which I expect would have been important to voters. The election was fought in good spirits and it was a very high a turnout for a by-election, which I think is testament to the civic mindset of the residents and candidates of Maybury and Sheerwater, which is a very good thing for democracy in our borough.
“Mr Rashid is a long-standing Maybury resident and is well known locally with experience in business and in the voluntary sector. I congratulate him on his terrific victory – he will make an excellent representative in the ward. I wish him every success as a councillor.
“The four candidates were very strong and all worked hard for the election.
“I would also like to congratulate them all on their campaigns and wish them better luck in the future.”
Mr Rashid, who’s 51 and has stood as a Conservative candidate before, said: “I am honoured to win this council seat back which was lost to the Lib Dems.
“I am delighted that I am elected by my community. I would also like to thank my party for giving me a second chance. It was a nice, short campaign but it was also hard work.
“I am looking forward to seeking a delay in the introduction of the Euro 5 emissions 5 standards on taxis and will be lobbying the taxi group set up by the licensing committee to review it.
“I support the proposed Sheerwater redevelopment and am working with those residents who wish to stay within the area.”