www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
The Greens came close to winning a seat in the safe Labour ward of Old Hastings. Caroline Lucas, right, their only MP, came to help candidates Andrea Needham, left, and Julia Hilton.

The Greens came close to winning a seat in the safe Labour ward of Old Hastings. Caroline Lucas, right, their only MP, came to lend a hand to candidates Andrea Needham, left, and Julia Hilton.

Hastings remains a Labour stronghold

Thursday’s election saw Labour tightening its grip on the local council as it increased its number of councillors to 24. The Tories held onto the remainding eight seats, leaving other opposition parties out in the cold, though the Greens came tantalisingly close to taking a seat off Labour. Nick Terdre reports.

Labour has retained its dominant hold on the council, with a net gain of one seat taking its total to 24. The Tories remain unchanged on eight.

However, at ward level some seats changed hands. Labour won the Castle seat previously held by an independent and the St Helens seat held by the Conservatives. The Tories in turn took the West St Leonards seat held by Labour.

Several first-time Labour candidates have been elected, among them Paul Barnett, the local party chair, and Maya Evans in Hollington. “We’re delighted that Labour has done so well, taking Castle back and both St Helens seats for the first time, and getting 50% of the vote in such a crowded field makes this our best result ever,” Mr Barnett told HOT.

“As Chair of the party I worked hard to secure equal rights for women candidates, so am proud we now have 11 women in the Labour group and very talented councillors they will all be!

Labour's Paul Barnett and Maya Evans on the stump in Hollington.

Labour’s Paul Barnett and Maya Evans on the stump on a snowy, sunny day in Hollington.

“Maya Evans and I have spent six months getting to know the people of Hollington. We are passionate about securing a fair share of resources for the area, and working with residents to expand and improve local services. Hollington has suffered from Tory austerity more than most and it’s time to change that.”

Boundary changes brought in

The election was the first to be held following boundary changes in all wards but one, Baird. Unusually all seats were up for election – a return to staggered voting will take place in two years’ time, when the seat held by the councillor with the second highest vote in each ward will be up for election. The councillors taking the highest vote in each ward will enjoy a four-year term of office.

In Old Hastings the Greens’ Julia Hilton came tantalisingly close to taking a seat off Labour, polling 697 votes against Labour rookie Dany Louise’s 726. The Green campaign in the ward enjoyed the support of the Liberal Democrats, who abstained from standing candidates in solidarity with the Greens’ stance against the proposed harbour marina project.

“We’ve had a huge number of conversations on doorsteps over the past few months, and people have told us that they really want to see more diversity on Hastings Council, which is heavily dominated by one party,” Andrea Needham, Ms Hilton’s fellow candidate in Old Hastings, told HOT.

“We also found enormous concern about the harbour proposal, with many people telling us that they would not vote Labour because of the party’s perceived support for the idea. We hope that our role in highlighting residents’ concerns will have shaken up Labour’s thinking about the destructive harbour project. Challenging complacency and the status quo is what Greens do best.

”Julia Hilton came within 29 votes of winning what was considered to be a safe Labour seat. We are extremely pleased with the result – we tripled our vote, overtook the Conservatives, and showed that the Green Party is a real political movement in Hastings.

“We note that Labour won 50% of the overall Hastings vote, but 75% of the seats, and we will continue to work towards a system of proportional representation in which votes match seats and everyone’s vote counts.”

Greens on a roll

The Greens are now the third largest party in town, polling 10% of votes against 5% in the last local elections in 2016. The LibDems polled 8% against 7%, though that figure also reflects the votes voluntarily given up in Old Hastings. Labour’s vote fell marginally to 50% from 51%, while the Tories’ increased to 32% from 30%.

“We are certainly disappointed not to have won in Castle Ward,” Paul Hunt, the LibDem campaign organiser and constituency party vice chairman, told HOT. ” We reduced the Labour lead from 12% in 2016 to 6% this time but the Labour vote was simply too strong.

“Nick [Perry] would have been a tremendous councillor for Castle Ward and I think it would be true to say that this is recognised across all the parties.

“We made some limited progress from a very low base in Conquest and St Helen’s and were pleased with our strong showing (up 7%) in West St Leonards.  However, we remain disappointed overall that we were unable to share in the great progress made by Liberal Democrats across the country.”

Perry steps back

Mr Perry, a veteran LibDem campaigner, told HOT he would now be stepping back from standing for the party in future elections.

The UK Independence Party – Ukip – fielded only one candidate, Pam Croft, who polled 68 votes in Gensing. Two right-wing fringe parties, the Democrats and Veterans and the For Britain Movement, fared similarly in Castle ward.

Calls for people to vote tactically in order to reduce Labour’s overwhelming majority largely went unheeded. Had a system of proportional representation been in effect, with seats distributed according to number of votes cast for each party, Labour would have 16, the Conservatives 10, and the Greens and LibDems three each, and no party would have overall control.

Nationally the greatest change was the collapse of the Ukip vote, which saw the party reduced to three seats from 126. That appears to have benefited the Tories, although overall they lost 33 seats. All the other parties gained: Labour 77 seats, the LibDems 75 and the Greens eight.

However, Labour’s hopes of winning long-held Tory councils in London proved unrealistic. In the end they gained three councils and lost three, while the Tories gained four and lost six and the LibDems gained four.

 

Hastings’ new council (the first councillor mentioned for each ward polled the highest and gets a four-year term, the second a two-year term. See here for full results.)

Ashdown Mike Turner (C), Sorrell Marlow-Eastwood (C); Baird Mike Turner (L), Warren Davies (L); Braybrooke Sue Beaney (L), Dominic Sabetian (L); Castle Judy Rogers (L), Leah Levane (L); Central St Leonards Ruby Cox (L), Trevor Webb (L); Conquest John Rankin (C), Paul Foster (C); Gensing Kim Forward (L), Colin Fitzgerald (L); Hollington Paul Barnett (L), Maya Evans (L); Maze Hill Andy Patmore (C), Robert Lee (C); Old Hastings James Bacon (L), Dany Louise (L); Ore Andrew Battley (L), Heather Bishop (L); Silverhill Nigel Sinden (L), Margi O’Callaghan (L); St Helens Andy Batsford (L), Antonia Berelson (L); Tressell Peter Chowney (L), Tania Charman (L); West St Leonards Matthew Beaver (C), Karl Beaney (C); Wishing Tree Phil Scott (L), Alan Roberts (L).

Posted 13:33 Sunday, May 6, 2018 In: Local Elections 2018

9 Comments


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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    We do have a vote on major planning issues here in Hastings but we are continually ignored even when the evidence shows a) the applications are flawed and b) planning legislation has been flouted.
    But this council is making it more and more difficult for us to have a voice. Less time given to speak at meetings, more objections required before anything goes before the planning committee and of course the famous ‘ask a question and you have to pay for an answer’ regime.
    Whatever has happened to the fighting spirit of this town – have the majority decided to simply give up? Are they all weary from the continual battles with this council? Why is this council able to walk all over us? Something has to change and quickly too.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 08:36

  2. Heather Grief

    We should take a leaf out of Switzerland’s book, and have a vote on each major issue – a collection of them once a year – very little is that urgent that it has to be decided in a shorter time.
    Maybe HOT and the local printed papers could organise something with a large degree of legitimacy in the meantime. Then the representatives who think that having been voted in, they can ignore their electorate, will be less able to do so.
    We could also have a vote annually, at the same time, to be able to get rid of local councillors who ignore us.

    Comment by Heather Grief — Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 14:58

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    Hastings council has decreed that the public toilets on the beach at West of Haven will now close at 5pm during the summer months. What kind of council decides to deprive residents of relaxing evenings on the beach with maybe a picnic or a bbq? No doubt Cllr. Pete Dhowney and his gang will blame the Tory cuts for this – but is it fair to shut up a very important facility so early in the summer evenings….maybe it would be essential now to take a bucket and spade with you just in case.
    Shame on Hastings council….what have they got against public lavatories?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Monday, May 7, 2018 @ 18:23

  4. DAR

    I suppose we can now look forward to more years of environmental vandalism from Chowney & Co. who want to build on every patch of land (or seaside) they can find.
    PR is not “dangerous”: this is just a dodgy argument to keep the status quo intact. The real danger is that we seem to have a “one-party state” re: HBC where Labour rides roughshod over majority concerns – like over-development and the destruction of green spaces.

    Comment by DAR — Monday, May 7, 2018 @ 14:21

  5. Eye on the ball

    Sadly I don’t think there is any chance of getting PR as the people in power benefit from the status quo. With labour getting what seems (under the current system) a large mandate from the electorate, I despair of being able to hold them to account for anything. Neither will they feel the need to consult as the electorate has spoken. RIP democracy in local politics.

    Comment by Eye on the ball — Monday, May 7, 2018 @ 07:56

  6. chris connelley

    The perception of a net gain by Labour is technically true but slightly misleading, since it simply regularises a situation prompted by the movement of a councillor elected in the Labour interest to Independent status. On the night, it was one gain each for the two major parties.

    The real headline, though, is the marked disparity between votes received and seats won under our first-past-the post system.

    Comment by chris connelley — Sunday, May 6, 2018 @ 20:40

  7. Ms.Doubtfire

    Proportional representation certainly seems a fairer system – it is getting very boring having a council with such a high majority. It does not give any incentive for residents to bother to vote as the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Proportional representation would change all that and provide an equal playing field.
    Congrats to the Greens. Well done.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Sunday, May 6, 2018 @ 20:17

  8. Cameron

    I don’t entirely disagree but it would have left us with “a no overall control Council” so on those crucial votes where big and difficult decisions have to be taken…… who would be controlling the destiny of Hastings? a very small minority party! Dangerous

    Comment by Cameron — Sunday, May 6, 2018 @ 20:16

  9. Zelly Restorick

    When I read how a proportional representation vote would have changed the outcome of this election, it seems that our current system is very unfair and surely not for for purpose? Both in local and national elections.

    Comment by Zelly Restorick — Sunday, May 6, 2018 @ 13:36

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