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Conservative catastrophe? Tories lose tied council seat after random draw

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Conservative catastrophe? Tories lose tied council seat after random draw

Rival candidates were forced into a drawing of straws to decide the winner of a local council seat in north-east England.

The random decider happened after a Liberal Democrat attracted the same number of votes as her Conservative rival.

It meant the Conservatives were denied a majority and overall control of Northumberland Council Council.

After successive recounts had failed to separate Lib Dem Lesley Rickerby and Conservative Daniel Carr, a drawing of straws was decided upon.

Rickerby pulled the longer of the two pieces of straw and won the South Blyth ward, denying the Tories overall control of the council.

The Conservatives won 33 of the 67 seats available – if they had won Carr’s ward they would have had a majority.

Labour, who had controlled the council for 40 years, won 24 seats, the Lib Dems, three, and independent candidates, seven.

“I would have preferred a majority, but that’s how our democratic system works,” said Rickerby, who, like Carr, amassed 356 votes.

“But after several recounts, we hardly had a choice.

“It is incredible to see that we organise a democratic election but we in the end we find ourselves drawing straws!”

Speaking to the BBC, she added: “The returning officer decides if we would flip a coin or draw straws and he went with straws.

“I certainly don’t want to do that again in a hurry – it really was the last straw.”

The local elections, which saw the Conservatives gain ground across the UK at the expense of UKIP and Labour, are expected to be a litmus test ahead of the country’s snap general election in June.

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