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Police called to alleged dispute at by-election as Liberal Democrats gain borough council seat

PUBLISHED: 10:11 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:08 25 May 2018

Aylsham Town Hall Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Aylsham Town Hall Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2015

An alleged dispute between political rivals at a polling station led to police being called during a by-election.

New Liberal Democrat councillor for Aylsham, Sue Catchpole, celebrates her victory with fellow Lib Dems. Picture: Norfolk Liberal Democrats New Liberal Democrat councillor for Aylsham, Sue Catchpole, celebrates her victory with fellow Lib Dems. Picture: Norfolk Liberal Democrats

Sue Catchpole gained a seat on Broadland District Council from the Conservatives in Aylsham on Thursday in a by-election held to replace Tory councillor Ian Graham, who stood down in April.

It means that since the May 2015 elections, the Liberal Democrats have gone from having one out of three seats in the ward to all three.

However as voters came to exercise their democratic right, police were called to the polling station in Aylsham Town Hall to deal with an alleged dispute between the competing party members.

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said: “We were called at around 7pm to suggestions that there too many representatives from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties at the polling station.

“A police officer gave advice but was required to take no further action.”

A representative from Broadland District Council said the council received no complaints from members of the public regarding the electoral process and that it had received no subsequent complaints either.

Ms Catchpole’s victory, which came with a majority of 153 votes, means she joins fellow Liberal Democrats David Harrison and Steve Riley as the wards three district councillors.

It also means that the Aylsham ward provides half of the Liberal Democrat representation on the district council, which is now made up of 41 Conservatives and six Liberal Democrats.

Dan Roper, leader of the Norfolk Liberal Democrats, said: “It is a fantastic result for us and shows how hard we have worked in Aylsham over a number of years.

“Sue was an excellent candidate and I am sure she will also make a brilliant councillor.”

In the most recent local elections in May 2015, the ward’s three seats were won by Mr Harrison and Conservatives Jo Cottingham and Mr Graham, who stepped down in April to pursue charity work following the loss of his wife.

A by-election in March 2016 saw Mr Riley elected in place of Mrs Cottingham, who stepped down to move to Hampshire for family reasons,

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