Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Kulka lost his seat to the Conservatives in the borough elections on Thursday 3 May – by just six votes.
Successful challenger Jonathan White now joins fellow Conservative John Godden and Liberal Democrat Anna Tarrant as the ward’s councillors.
Jonathan White said he was delighted with his win, adding:
“Steve Kulka has been a councillor for 16 years, and I’ve lived in the ward for about the same time, 17 years.
He’s obviously done a lot of good work for the ward: I just felt that more was needed, and more and better representation of local people.
And that’s what persuaded me to stand.
We’ve run a pretty active campaign, we’ve done a litter pick already, we’ve been quite active in looking after residents’ comments that we’ve received and so on.
It’s just a start, obviously we’re going to build on this now, and just see what we can do as a political party working for local residents.”
Asked about the narrow margin of just six votes, Cllr White said “It’s always a mega-tight seat”. He pointed to the majority of five that Anna Tarrant won last year, and Steve Kulka’s own majority of 49 in 2014.
Liberal Democrat Steve Kulka said of his defeat:
“I’m a bit of a pragmatist, psychologically, I suppose.
So when I knew which candidates were standing, I knew there was a possibility for a bit of a problem.
When we were going round canvassing, on the doors people were saying, ‘you realise you’ve got Labour and Greens preparing to split your vote for you?’
And I said ‘you don’t have to tell me’.
It’s a situation which we’ve sort of run before, but often when there’s been a UKIP candidate standing as well.
I think I was well prepared for the possibility.”
Mr Kulka hopes to stand again, and he highlighted issues Lib Dems would continue to campaign on:
“Potholes comes up on almost every doorstep, either they don’t get fixed or they take so long to get fixed that they just get worse and worse and do damage to cars.
[The other issue] in the centre of Meadvale Village is getting some speed reduction applied to that area – it’s a 30mph zone and it’s always causing problems, people losing their wing mirrors and things like that.
He said that with two children’s nurseries near the junction of Somerset Road and Copse Road, a survey of several hundred local residents had overwhelmingly backed a 20mph limit. He added that the matter had been raised with Surrey County Council.
Potholes were also mentioned by Cllr White, when he spoke of his plans:
“My priorities as a first year councillor are basic local things, and that is to work with the county council who are responsible for highways, to do as much as we can within our budget to fix the pothole situation.”
“We did a survey of residents back in the winter, and the issue which came up by far the strongest, was potholes – so even though it’s not a borough responsibility, I believe it’s a borough councillor’s responsibility to be constantly representing their ward on that.
And also litter: litter is a plague all over the area, and it’s something that a little bit of refocusing of resources and maybe some community action could sort out.
But also more strategically, I’m a chartered accountant so I will take a lot of interest in council finances.”
Thanks to a boundary review all councillors will be up for election next year, before the normal system of elections by thirds, in three out of four years, resumes.
Results for Meadvale and St John’s
|Name||Party||Votes||Share||PARTY +/- since 2016|
|Jonathan White||CON||841||39.5||+ 2.5|
|Stephen Kulka||LDEM||835||39.3||+ 2.0|
|Douglas Wickenden||LAB||246||11.6||+ 1.5|
|Sue Fenton||GREEN||205||9.6||+ 2.1|
|(UKIP did not field a candidate this year)||(- 8.2)|
Note: the percentage point change shown is against the last election in the ward in 2016, rather than the same seat four years ago, and is the party figure – candidates may have changed.