11 December 2017
Herefordshire Green Party are celebrating their second by-election win of the year as Ellie Chowns joins three other Greens, all women, on Herefordshire council.
Ellie won by a comfortable margin in the by-election in the rural ward of Bishop's Frome and Cradley, gaining 471 votes to 299 for the Conservative. She first contested the ward in 2015 as the sole challenger to the Conservatives. She was later the parliamentary candidate for the area in 2017.
"The Greens have been on a winning streak in the county and I am pleased to be a part of it," she said.
"The public like what they see. Green councillors have earned a good reputation for working in a civil and co-operative manner across party lines but they do not shrink from holding the Council to account."
It was the second Herefordshire county by-election win this year for the Greens - Trish Marsh won Leominster South in March with a big majority following the death of an independent councillor.
Another Leominster Green councillor, Jenny Bartlett, first won her place on the council in a 2014 by-election when she took a seat from the Conservatives, beating UKIP and other candidates.
Ellie's campaign gained momentum when the local independent 'It’s Our County' party - which already has 10 Herefordshire county councillors - publicly joined her campaign.
"I would like to thank IOC for backing me – like-minded campaigners should work together whenever they can", she said. "There are people there I can definitely work with. It's great to see that we have much common ground."
Herefordshire has a relatively unusual political make up with a strong independent tradition. The Conservatives have a majority of just three, holding 28 of the 53 seats and there are 10 It's Our County councillors, 10 Herefordshire Independents as well as the four Greens and two LibDems. The other three Green councillors all represent wards in the main town of Leominster, while Ellie's ward is some way out of town. She said: "Greens in Leominster have already built up a good reputation which definitely helped.
"Lots of people were saying 'you are the only people who are doing anything'. Really my campaign was about being me being someone independent to sepak out for local residents rather than anything too overtly party political." She focused particularly on the need for public transport for teenagers, given that some bus routes in the area had been axed.
Ellie's campaign received much support from West Midlands region field organiser Peggy Wiseman.
Meanwhile, further south in the country, Lewes Green Party also celebrated a second by-election victory, this time on Lewes Town Council where Chelsea Renton won a closely-fought battle with the Liberal Democrat candidate.
Chelsea stood after the incumbent Green town councillor had to stand down following health issues. Chelsea's campaign was managed by Campaign School graduate Zoe Nicholson, who also managed the by-election campaign two months ago that saw Johnny Denis elected to Lewes District Council.
Result from Herefordshire unitary council by-election:
Ellie Chowns, Green Party 471
Lib Dem 251
Result from Lewes Town Council by-election
558 Green, Chelsea Renton
485 Lib Dem