Tories lose control of East Sussex County Council

  • 3 May 2013
  • From the section Sussex
Ed Miliband speaking to crowds in Hastings
Image caption Labour leader Ed Miliband visited Hastings to meet new councillors and speak to crowds

The Conservatives have lost control of East Sussex County Council for the first time since 2001.

With all 49 results declared following Thursday's elections, the Tories had lost nine councillors, losing overall control of the authority.

UKIP have seven councillors, up from one, who had defected from the Tories, and Labour have gained three seats.

But the Conservatives retained control of West Sussex County Council, winning 37 seats.

Independent West Sussex candidate John Cherry, who resigned from the Conservative Party after making remarks about children from ethnic minorities, has lost Midhurst seat to independent Gordon Valentine McAra.

In West Sussex, the Conservatives have 46 seats, down from 48; UKIP gained nine seats to win 10; the Liberal Democrats have eight seats, down from 18, Labour gained three seats to win six, and independent candidates kept one seat.

In East Sussex, the Tories now have 20 councillors, the Lib Dems 10, Labour and UKIP seven each and there are five Independents - up from two in 2009.

'Change the country'

Labour gained three seats from the Conservatives in Hastings and Labour leader Ed Miliband visited the resort to meet the party's new councillors and speak to crowds in the town centre.

Asked whether he was worried about the threat of UKIP, he said: "I have said throughout this campaign that, in a way, part of Labour's challenge at the next election campaign is not the Tories, or the Lib Dems or even UKIP, it's the idea that nobody can really change the country, and that mainstream parties can't change the country.

"I believe Labour can change the country. I believe we have convinced a lot of that in these elections and that's why we have made a lot of gains, but I also know that there's work to do that goes on."

Labour's parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye Sarah Owen said: "This is great news for Labour in the South East and a fantastic result in Hastings.

"We had a 42% share of the vote and the Conservatives had 25%, it is a good night for us."

UKIP won the Seaford Sutton and Ouse Valley East wards from the Lib Dems and won seats in Bexhill, Pevensey & Westham and Hailsham & Herstmonceux from the Tories. UKIP also made gains from the Conservatives in the Peacehaven & Telscombe Towns wards, where Councillor Phil Howson, who defected from the Tories a few weeks ago, was re-elected for his new party alongside a UKIP colleague.

'Protest vote'

UKIP came second in all but two wards in both Hastings and Eastbourne.

Image caption John Cherry, who left the Tories over controversial comments, lost his seat

Bob Lacey, who stood in Eastbourne's Devonshire ward, said: "It has been a wonderful evening for UKIP. We have doubled our vote in Eastbourne."

David Tutt, leader of the Lib Dem group on East Sussex County Council, said: "I am 100% satisfied with this outcome - UKIP have become the natural home of the protest vote."

In Hastings, 19,343 people turned out to vote - 30% of the electorate. In Eastbourne, the figure was 24,736 - 33.58 % of the electorate.

East Sussex County Council was previously controlled by the Conservatives, who won 29 seats in 2009. The Liberal Democrats had 13, Labour four and independents three.

West Sussex was also Tory-controlled, with the party having 30 more seats than the Liberal Democrats' 18. Labour held three, UKIP had one and and there was one independent.

Both county councils have published the full election results on their websites.

A fire in Queens Road, Hastings on Thursday afternoon meant a polling station had to be relocated after the power supply to parts of the town centre was cut.

The station at Friends Meeting House, South Terrace, was moved to Hastings Town Hall. It was thought to be the first time such a change has had to be made on an election day in the town.

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