Night of the long pencils

A COUNCIL election which ended as a dead heat after two recounts was decided in bizarre way the draw of a pencil.

Tories demanded a recount in Wheathampstead after their candidate Keith Stammers' seat was initially declared for his Lib Dem challenger, school admission campaigner Judy Shardlow, by two votes.

But when two recounts showed the pair tied on 1,132 votes each, the returning officer asked each to choose a pencil, one short and one long.

Tory leader Teresa Heritage said: "Keith let the lady go first.

"That was a great shame. He had worked really hard."

With the help of the pencil verdict, the Lib Dems, who previously held exactly half the 58 seats on St Albans District Council, now have an overall majority of four.

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