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New Green councillors – Tony Collins in Central St Leonards, Amanda Jobson in Gensing and Glenn Haffenden in Tressell ward.

Labour lose council majority following Green surge

In the face of a Green surge, Labour has lost its controlling majority on Hastings Borough Council, opening up the prospect of more collaborative decision-making in council chambers. Nick Terdre details the results of Thursday’s local elections.

Labour’s seemingly impregnable majority on Hastings Borough Council came to an end today when the local election results showed three gains for the Greens, all from Labour, from the 16 seats being contested. The Conservatives, who had high hopes of repeating their successes of last year, when they took four seats off Labour, won nothing new, perhaps reflecting voters’ dissatisfaction with prime minister Boris Johnson, while, in contrast to their performance nationally, the Liberal Democrats had a forgettable day, coming in last in nine of the 11 seats they contested.

Overall the council now consists of 15 Labour councillors, 12 Conservatives and five Greens. How this will play out in practice remains to be seen, though the current exclusion of all opposition councillors from the Cabinet will clearly have to end. Recently installed council leader Paul Barnett, who took over as leader from Cllr Kim Forward in April,  had already declared himself open to collaboration with other parties.

Green wins

Kim Forward’s lengthy period as councillor for Gensing has now been ended by the Greens’ Amanda Jobson, by a healthy 776 votes against 671.

In Central St Leonards the Greens’ Tony Collins ousted sitting councillor and deputy mayor Ruby Cox by a more modest 745 votes to 711. But the most remarkable swing to the Greens came in Tressell, where Glenn Haffenden scored 635 votes against 325 for Liam Crowter, who was seeking to retain the seat for Labour after former council leader Peter Chowney stood down.

Simon Willis, Labour’s new councillor for Ore.

Old retainers

Labour councillors retaining their seats included Mike Turner in Baird, Judy Rogers in Castle – though by a bare five votes over her Green opponent Becca Horn – Paul Barnett in Hollington, Nigel Sinden in Silverhill and Andy Batsford in St Helens.

Mayor James Bacon, who might have expected a tough fight to retain Old Hastings after Julia Hilton won the Greens’ first ever seat in the town there last year, in the end came home comfortably with 51% of the vote.

New reds and old blues

Meanwhile Labour’s Margi O’Callaghan returned to the council at the first attempt in Braybrooke and Simon Willis and John Cannan won seats for the first time in Ore and Wishing Tree respectively.

Conservative leader Andy Patmore: “A remarkable result.”

There were four Conservative holds, all by incumbent councillors: Mike Edwards in Ashdown, John Rankin in Conquest, Andy Patmore in Maze Hill and Matthew Beaver in West St Leonards. Cllr Patmore called the results “remarkable” – “Labour have lost control of this town because, I think, they haven’t listened to residents. Decisions will now have to be taken in a more collaborative way.”

Tressell victor Haffenden said the outcome was “amazing – to go from one councillor to five in such a short period of time shows that Hastings want to change, and they are taking the Green agenda very seriously. Our huge gains show that if you vote Green you get Green.”

The highest turnout in the borough was 49.1% in Old Hastings, followed by 48.1% in St Helens. Elsewhere it varied between 30 and 39%, apart from West St Leonards, where it dipped to 28.7%. Though Labour lost seats, its vote actually increased overall by 4.7% over 2021. The Green vote rose by 5.9% while Conservative support was down by 9.7% and Lib Dem backing by 1%.

Results of HBC elections May 2022

Ward Winner Party Status
Ashdown Mike Edwards* Con Con hold
Baird Mike Turner* Lab Lab hold
Braybrooke Margi O’Callaghan Lab Lab hold
Castle Judy Rogers* Lab Lab hold
Central St Leonards Tony Collins Green Green gain
Conquest John Rankin* Con Con hold
Gensing Amanda Jobson Green Green gain
Hollington Paul Barnett* Lab Lab hold
Maze Hill Andy Patmore* Con Con hold
Old Hastings James Bacon* Lab Lab hold
Ore Simon Willis Lab Lab hold
Silverhill Nigel Sinden* Lab Lab hold
St Helens Andy Batsford* Lab Lab hold
Tressell Glenn Haffenden Green Green gain
West St Leonards Matthew Beaver* Con Con hold
Wishing Tree John Cannan Lab Lab hold

* Incumbent re-elected

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Posted 19:11 Friday, May 6, 2022 In: Politics

2 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. DAR

    Yes, Nick – the cabinet system, at least MUST change. Better still, get rid of it altogether as it allows just a handful of councillors too much power.

    Comment by DAR — Monday, May 9, 2022 @ 10:43

  2. Bryan Fisher

    In general, these results go against the national move to indicate displeasure with the Conservative government; so for Labour to perform so badly locally is a clear indication from dissatisfied voters. There are probably many reasons for this, including Labour’s obsession with using green spaces for housing development (rather than exercising CPOs on land banked sites), but I really hope there is now a genuine desire from Labour to listen and act upon local opinion.

    Comment by Bryan Fisher — Sunday, May 8, 2022 @ 19:52

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