Kingston Independent Residents Group wins Green Lane and St James Ward by-election

Kingston Independent Residents Group (KIRG) representative Yvonne Tracey has been elected the new councillor of Green Lane and St James Ward in New Malden. 

Winning 46.3% of the vote, KIRG increased its voters by almost 10% from the last by-election in May 2022.

The results from the Kingston Council show that the Liberal Democrats achieved only 35.1% of the vote, with a marginal 3.9% decrease in votes from May.

Tracey told the Kingston Courier: “I’m very humbled. I didn’t think I would win. It’s very hard to get elected as an independent candidate.”

Her previous occupation was a deputy manager of New Malden’s post office, before becoming treasurer for the KIRG.

Tracey will join fellow KIRG representative James Giles on the Kingston Council. This amounts to two KIRG councillors to the Lib Dem’s 43- out of a total of 48.

Tracey said: “At least there’s two of us to shout now.”

Voting signs outside homes in Green Lane New Malden. Photo: Em Dalton.

Born in New Malden, Tracey has lived in the area for 67 years. She said she hoped that she can give back to the people who voted by holding the council to account.

One of the first things on her agenda is improving the cycle lane by removing bollards and implementing a ‘give way’ sign. 

Graham Bennet*, 67, a retired accountant, was specifically interested in fixing the cycle lanes. He said: “There are more cyclists on the pavement than the road.” 

Graham, dismissive about local elections in general said: “Anybody but Lib Dems.”

The by-election was triggered after the Liberal Democrat Councillor Tim Cobbett resigned at the end of September.

The Liberal Democrats, represented by Mahmood Rafiq, failed to defend their seat.

The result comes after a controversial leaflet was circulated in New Malden making claims about Rafiq’s association with the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.

The result is not such a blow to the Liberal Democrats, who may have struggled to argue for a 44th councillor in Kingston.

However, it does raise concerns to Kingston’s Labour and Green parties who currently have no formal representation in Kingston Council.

Kingston Conservative party remains the major opposition party to the Liberal Democrats with three elected councillors.

Ballot boxes for local election. Photo: Xinhua/Shutterstock

Twitter comments on the election result flirt with the notion for an independent party winning a seat at the next general election, removing Ed Davey from his seat. Tweets include: “Taxi for Mr Ed.

The turnout was lower than the May by-election, with only 1,845 residents voting in comparison to the previous 4,340

Many voters opted for postal voting over going to the ballot in-person as autumnal elections are often poorer turnouts.

*Pseudonym used.

Want to find out more? Kingston political parties condemn ‘divisive’ campaign tactics.

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