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Congratulations to Chris Furness, the Conservative candidate, who has been elected unopposed for the vacancy in Bradwell Ward on Derbyshire Dales District Council. Those who had been waiting nervously for the contest due on January 12 can now relax. I suppose not having a poll will save the Council Taxpayer some money and save a lot of trudging around in the cold.

But I wonder what Furness makes of it. You turn up for an audition or a job interview and find there is no competition – so you have won. Nobody else wants the job. The elation must be tinged with a certain doubt.

Would it not have been good for democracy to have a contest? Could the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats really find nobody willing to stand? Or could they not find ten people out of the 1,572 electorate of the Bradwell Ward willing to sign the nomination papers for such a candidate? It is not as if Derbyshire Dales District Council is a one party state. The Conservatives have a big majority. But there are five Labour councillors and four Lib Dems. Do they regard Bradwell Ward as a No Go Zone?

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