ONE OF the biggest surprises of the Bromsgrove District Council elections was an independent taking the Barnt Green and Hopwood seat from the Conservatives.
Barnt Green has traditionally always been a blue stronghold for the Tories, but Dr Charles Hotham saw off Mike Webb, who was also the portfolio holder for finance, by a staggering 429 votes – 1,066 to 637.
Coun Hotham told The Standard: “We had an effective campaign putting up posters and handing out leaflets about what I planned to do, but the majority was greater than we had expected – I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.”
Coun Hotham said: “I think he (Mike Webb) had the advantage of being a cabinet member but the disadvantage of coming into a ward he was not familiar with and I think the two things evened themselves out.”
Coun Hotham has a PHD in engineering that he attained from Cardiff University and over the years has held several research jobs, owned his own business and been a chemistry teacher.
“I do have a lot of different skillsets that I hope to bring to the role.
“I think if you have worked in the public sector, it makes it easier,” he added.
Coun Hotham was already vice chairman of Barnt Green Parish Council and as he set about taking up his new role this week, he vowed to work closely with the two parish councils.
“I wanted to represent the two areas on the district council so we can get the best for Barnt Green and Hopwood,” he said.
He said, since his victory, he had received a great reaction from local residents and plenty congratulatory messages.
Looking back through the history books shows that Barnt Green has been a Conservative stronghold for as long as most people can remember.
In 1983, Margaret Taylor and Michael Trotter stood unopposed as Conservatives and then four years later, in 1987, Coun Taylor was joined by Ann Doyle – both had majorities of close to 1,000 votes.
The pair held their seats in 1991, 1995 and in 1999 with strong majorities, but then reforms meant that there was no specific Barnt Green ward after that.
The village was included in the Hillside ward until this election when boundary changes saw it grouped with Hopwood.