AS comebacks go, it might not rank alongside Frank Sinatra or Muhammad Ali. But to make a return to the town council at the age of 79, having been voted off at the last election, is quite an achievement.
Stan Williams, who first won a seat on the old Borough Council in the late 1960s, campaigning for a one-way traffic system for Lyme, was triumphant in last week’s by-election, called to fill the vacancy left by a disallusioned Jill Newton.
Stan topped the poll with 321 votes in a rather dismal but not unexpected turn-out of 26 per cent.
So few people turned out because the majority have no real interest in local government, and many have been put off offering their services by the crass behaviour of so many of our current elected members. They give an already much aligned institution a bad name.
Stan beat Woodroffe School teacher Seoras Strain (236 votes) into second place, followed by local author David Ruffle (144) and Jeff Scowen, who glories in the moniker of DJ Mad Jeff (88 votes).
The votes were counted when the polls closed at the Woodmead Halls and the result announced to a handful of interested people shortly before midnight.
Four other councillors - deputy mayor Anita Williams, Daryl Turner, Lucy Campbell and Rikey Austin - turned up to see who would be joining them on the council benches, accompanied by Lucy’s mum and dad, who always show a great interest in their daughter’s work on the town council.
I was there more out of duty than interest and two other keen council observers, former mayor Ken Dibben and Derek Hallett, were also present.
All the councillors joined Stan, Seoras and Jeff at the bar for a drink after the result was declared, which was nice to see.
I was surprised that four candidates put themselves forward for a by-election and Stan’s three opponents all worked hard to get their message across to the electorate. “Mad Jeff” was even delivering election leaflets in the early hours of the morning on election day.
And top marks go to Seoras for having the nerve to knock on a few doors in town to introduce himself, which rarely happens in town council elections.
I believe it is quite possible that at least seven of the current 14 town councillors may not seek re-election at the next full contest in May 2015 and I hope that all three put themselves forward again.
So what can we expect with Stan back on the council? He never really went away after losing his seat, turning up at most meetings and having his say during the public forum session, sometimes to the obvious annoyance of some councillors.
After hearing that he was back on the council, one of my mates told me I must be rubbing my hands in glee as this newspaper would never want for another front page story.
He takes his seat at tonight’s full council meeting and it will be interesting to see where he sits. Will he return to the Aldermanic Bench, next to the mayor and traditionally reserved for the longest serving councillors, or will he find a place in the pit, an apt name for it these days?