An author and journalist has been elected in a Herefordshire by-election, keeping the ward for the Independents for Herefordshire (i4H).

The vacancy in Golden Valley South, which includes Pontrilas, Ewyas Harold and Abbey Dore, arose following the death of Coun Peter Jinman, who had retained the seat for i4H in May’s local elections.

The poll was then put back due the sudden death of Toby Murcott, a journalist, teacher and science broadcaster, who had been standing also as an Independent.


At Thursday's (October 26) vote, local resident Matthew Engel took 548 votes, more than twice the tally of his closest contender, Dave Greenow of the Conservatives, who got 249.

Mike Jones, who previously represented Weobley for the True Independents, and Labour’s Sandy Grenar both polled 34 votes, while Cat Hornsey of the Liberal Democrats gained 30 votes.

The turnout was 33.8 per cent, with more than a third of votes submitted by post.


The result keeps the i4H group on six out of 53 county councillors.

A staff writer at The Guardian and Financial Times for many years, Mr Engel has previously reported on many British elections. He has also written books on travel, history, language and sport, and edited 12 editions of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

He said on his Facebook campaign page shortly before the election that campaigning in the largely rural ward “have been among the strangest and most unexpected of my life, but also among the most exhilarating”.

He added that “far and away the subject that has come up most on the doorsteps” was the proposal to reopen Pontrilas railway station, which the council’s minority Conservative administration recently distanced itself from.