Article by the Billericay Gazette: Newly elected Billericay town councillor Adam Adshead says his dramatic victory by just a single vote in last Thursday's west ward by-election is only just beginning to sink in.
The independent candidate received 578 votes, one better than Tory Nicole Stephens and considerably more than UKIP's Terrence Gandy, who amassed 388.
The count went on until 11:35pm following two recounts, with the first ending in a dead heat.
Cllr Adshead said he could not hide his shock when the result was finally announced.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Adam Ashead"]When I found out I had won I went numb, in all honesty," he said. Friends around me were celebrating but I was just in disbelief initially. The realisation of it is only just coming through now, I went through pretty much every emotion there was going. It was a fantastic experience of seeing democracy being played out. I couldn't have hoped for a more exciting and intense situation.[/quote]
A member of the Billericay Action Group – who are opposing Basildon Council's plans to build 2,500 homes on green belt land by 2031 – Cllr Adshead has worked on various projects but admitted nothing prepared him for the drama of an election.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Ashead"]In any other project I have worked on I have monitored progress and have had a rough idea of how things are going. But when it comes to an election you have no idea what is going to happen. To win is quite amazing. I wanted to be a town councillor but I knew I faced a tough fight against the national parties as they have got an organisation behind them and the experience, whereas an independent candidate has none of that so I knew it was going to be very hard.[/quote]
Cllr Adshead was accompanied at the count by his wife Jo as well as fellow Billericay Action Group members Mike Andrews, Ian Mitchell and Stuart Dickson.
He said that although the vote went down to the wire, simply not finishing last was comforting.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Ashead"]We were watching the votes gradually build and we could see from very early on that we weren't going to come last. That really pleased me because we knew whatever happened we could go away having received some really good support.[/quote]
As someone with a firm stance on the building of green belt land, Cllr Adshead believes the result shows that the people of Billericay share his views.
He cited a group initiative in the Queens Park area, where the action group spoke to residents about the proposed development where "virtually everybody" was against the proposals.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Ashead"]At some point a decision will be made and the longer we can campaign and bring the issue to people's attention then the more chance we have of preserving green belt land," Cllr Adshead said.[/quote]
One area that has been earmarked for development is a site off Outwood Common Road.
Current town councillor Jim Devlin has previously said it may be necessary to build homes in the area in order to conform to the Government's housing policy and ultimately avoid losing more areas of green belt land. While Cllr Adshead did not deny these claims, he insisted he would continue to oppose development, suggesting the country lanes around Outwood Common Road add value to the area.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Ashead"]There is an argument being made that if we do not build on some green belt land then we may end up losing more. But if we do not try and fight for what we believe in then we all might as well give up now. Outwood Common Road is one of the few areas where there are lovely little lanes that you can go for a walk down – there aren't many in Billericay so we would like to preserve them.[/quote]
Original article by Billericay Gazette