NEW town councillors have been elected across Dorset, while residents voted overwhelmingly to support proposed Neighbourhood Plans which will shape the future of their communities.

An election also took place to appoint a new Police and Crime Commissioner for the county, which is still to be announced.

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Voters turned out to polling stations on Thursday before the votes were counted at Redlands Community Sports Hub today.

Conservative Peter Dickenson celebrated a ‘resounding victory’ in Weymouth Town Council’s Preston Ward. The seat was formerly occupied by Liberal Democrat David Mannings who stood down from the council earlier this year.

Councillor Dickenson received 1004 votes to take the seat with a voter turnout of 52.7 per cent. Liberal Democrat Nick Ireland came in second place with 627 votes.

He said: "Thank you to all my supporters, 52 per cent is a great turnout and it's great to see local democracy in action."

Louie O'Leary, Dorset Council councillor for Littlemoor and Preston commented on Peter Dickenson's win.

He said: "This has been a resounding victory for us, it’s been a victory for the work we’ve been doing in Preston including all the conservative councillors we’ve already got working over there.

"It’s been a rejection of the liberal run town council and their dangerous policies which they’ve been pushing on the town. We hope this will be the beginning of a comeback for us in Weymouth."

Labour candidate Becky Blake was elected in the Wyke Regis ward. The seat was formerly occupied by independent Tim Griffiths who resigned from the role in January, citing ‘personal reasons’.

Following her win with 626 votes, newly-appointed Councillor Blake said: "Thank you to everybody that voted and helped with the campaign. I hope to do Wyke Regis proud."

In other by-elections across the Dorset Council area, Swanage North was won by Conservative John Michael Bishop, while Tara Dawn Webb, who is not affiliated with a political party, was voted on to Lyme Regis Town Council.

The Shaftesbury West seat went to independent candidate Virginia Rhiannon Edwyn-Jones while Conservative Grant Parrott was elected to sit on Ferndown Town Council with a majority of just 46 votes.

Residents voted in favour of all Neighbourhood Plans on the table – in Arne, Blandford, Chickerell, Milton Abbas, Portland, Puddletown and Shaftesbury.

The neighbourhood plans will now be taken to Dorset Council Cabinet, where councillors will decide whether to formally adopt them. If so, they will be used to inform decisions on planning applications in the area as visions for the future of each community.

The count is still under way for the appointment of a new Police and Crime Commissioner, which will be announced by BCP Council later today.

A PCC is responsible for policing across the county and are elected every four years.

The last election was held in May 2016, with the appointment of Martyn Underhill. PCC elections that were due to be held in May 2020 were postponed by 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the Dorset Council area, just 28 per cent of people turned out to vote in the Dorset PCC election.