Richard Kemp rejoins Long Melford Parish Council
Just weeks after the polls saw a nearly 80 per cent turnout in Babergh, only 16.5 per cent of Long Melford residents bothered to vote for its new parish councillors.
The by-election, which cost around £1,000 despite no polling cards being sent out, saw Ian Bartlett and former member Richard Kemp voted onto the council with Anne Hinds missing out.
The parish council has had well publicised problems in the last few years, with the police being called to meetings, two parish clerk resignations and high tensions and factions between members.
Despite this, there was little interest in the vote which came about after Ann Moreton and Steve (Spud) Dudden resigned.
“I’m very pleased to be elected and thank you to everyone who supported me,” said Mr Kemp.
He admitted he was disappointed with the low turn out but explained if polling cards had been handed out this would have cost another £1,500 of taxpayers’ money.
Asked why he rejoined Mr Kemp said: “Public pressure. The public have been on to me so much to go back. I can’t make any promises but I hope my years of experience will give some stability to sort the problems.
“There’s always two sides of the argument. It is important we recognise that there are differences that need to be resolved.
“I’m hoping we are over the worst of it and we can work together for the benefit of Long Melford.”
When Mr Kemp left the council in April 2015, he ended a run of 41 years on the village council and ended a streak of around a century with a Kemp family member on the council in whatever form it took.
Mr Kemp said he thought relations in the village and on the council were improving.
“People have to come to realise at last that Long Melford has had its fair share of controversy in the last two or three years.”
Having rejoined, his priorities include finding somewhere for the many coaches that come into the village.
Famed for its wool heritage, art galleries, impressive architecture and links to British television series Lovejoy, it is heavily reliant on tourism, which supports the many shops and eateries in the village.
The council is also preparing to replace the street lighting, while it needs to hire a new village clerk.
Mr Kemp will be joined by Mr Bartlett on the council, Mr Bartlett serving for the first time.
Chairman of the parish council Graham Eade said: “We are pleased to welcome back Richard Kemp who will bring many years of experience.
“We are also pleased to welcome Ian Bartlett who has worked closely with parish councils to help create an indoor sports hall and adjoining indoor tennis facility.”