Conservatives win Maybury & Sheerwater by-election
The Conservatives have won the Maybury & Sheerwater by-election, which was called following the disqualification of sitting Liberal Democrat councillor Mohammed Bashir for electoral fraud at the last local elections in 2012. Rashid Mohammed, the winning candidate, took a clear lead with 1,057 votes, fending off competition from the Labour candidate Stephen Tudhope who received 833 votes. The Liberal Democrat candidate Norman Johns came a poor fourth with 252 votes, a collapse in their previous support and putting them behind UKIP.
The poor showing by the Liberal Democrats was obviously the result of public disgust and outrage at revelations about the corrupt and illegal practices used to win the Maybury & Sheerwater ward in 2012, such as adding false names to the electoral register, falsely registering postal voters and forging the votes and signatures of others without their knowledge or consent. While Rashid Mohammed won a clear, decisive and fair victory last night, credit is also due to the Woking Labour Party, and in particular their previous Maybury & Sheerwater candidate Mohammed Ali, who uncovered the fraud and took a petition to the High Court to have the 2012 result overturned.
Rashid will be an excellent councillor and a strong advocate for his community. At the same time, voters in Woking will expect assurances that with a General Election just eighteen months away, the integrity of the electoral system in the borough is sound. This is an issue that I intend to look at in more detail, and I will be calling for this sorry incident to be examined in more detail by the Overview & Scrutiny Committee in due course.