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County Hall, Lewes - the winning candidates' new workplace (photo: ESCC).

Painting the town red

Last Thursday’s East Sussex County Council elections saw Labour tighten its grip on the town’s politics, gaining three of the eight seats up for grabs locally to take its tally in Hastings to 7.  Chris Connelley casts an eye over the local election results.

Just a single division, Ashdown and Conquest, is now held by the Conservatives, although the party retains its position as the largest party in the county as a whole, with 20 seats, down nine, depriving it of overall control.

In fact, Hastings provided Labour with some of its best results of the night, leading party leader Ed Miliband to make it the location for his post-election day rally, intended to reinforce the point that Labour can now win in marginal southern seats.

The parliamentary seat of Rye and Hastings is currently held by Tory Amber Rudd with a wafer-thin majority of just 1,993, making it one of the most closely fought seats in the country and certain to be the target of intense political and media focus in the 2015 general election.

Looking beyond the two big parties, the Liberal Democrats had a miserable night, coming last place in every ward and with just a single candidate taking more than 5% of the vote.

The Greens, looking to extend their support outside their Brighton stronghold and establish themselves as the radical alternative to Labour, stood in six seats. Whilst making no major breakthrough, they will have been pleased to outscore the LibDems and to have secured a healthy 10% in Braybrooke and Castle wards.

However, UKIP, coming from nowhere, did much better, securing in excess of 20% of the vote in almost all divisions, coming second and beating the Conservatives in most. All eyes will be on them as front-runners in next year’s Euro poll.

Cynics might argue that the election was won by ‘stay at homes’, with turn-out here pretty much in line with the uninspiring national average of 30%. In Central St Leonards and Gensing ward, a mere 25.7% turned out to cast a vote.

In terms of seats and swings, though, it was Labour’s night. Its enhanced team at County Hall will include former Mayor Kim Forward, Old Town borough councillor John Hodges and Michael Wincott, one of the lead campaigners against the new Tesco store at Ore. All three are seasoned politicians, currently serving as borough councillors and now stepping up to assume additional responsibilities at county level.

They will join veterans such as Hastings Borough Council leader Jeremy Birch and last year’s Labour police commissioner candidate Godfrey Daniel, who secured a whopping 56% of the vote in Braybrooke and Castle ward.

Electors return to the polls in 2014 for a double whammy of voting, for Hastings borough councillors and the European Parliament, before the biggest political prize of them all, the general election, in 2015.

 

For a full set of figures from Hastings, go to http://www.hastings.gov.uk/decisions_democracy/voting_petitioning_having_your_say/elections_voting/electionresults/?elecdate=02052013&electype=county#overall

For East Sussex County Council as a whole, go to

http://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil/localelections/electionmap/default.aspx

 

 

 

Posted 11:14 Wednesday, May 8, 2013 In: Home Ground

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