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Archive - Monday, 14 June 2004
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Local elections: Tory joy in Eastbourne
The Tories swept back into power in Eastbourne after two years, deposing the Liberal Democrats by the slimmest of majorities.
The deciding factor was the crucial Old Town ward, where the Conservatives snatched one seat previously held by the Lib Dems to tip the balance.
It means the Tories now control 14 seats, compared with 13 held by the Lib Dems - a majority of just one and with no Labour challenge.
The Lib Dems did not surrender control easily. Returning officers were still re-checking the Old Town votes at 3.30am.
Eventually the victors emerged as veteran Lib Dem councillor and former mayor Maurice Skilton, with 1,854 votes, and Conservative Simon Herbert with 1,926.
Some council-watchers believed the Lib Dems would have retained control had veteran Old Town ward councillor Bert Leggett not stood down.
Ten out of 27 seats were contested between four parties, with both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems winning five seats. But it was a night for the Tories.
New council leader Graham Marsden said: "Two years ago, when the Conservatives lost control, I remember the leader of the Lib Dems saying to me, now is the time to play a lot of golf.
"What we have is a tremendous amount of planning, which has culminated in success this evening. We have built on that. There has been an increase across the town."
The Old Town ward was always going to be the focus.
The Lib Dems thought they had scored a coup in pre-election campaigning when they exposed apparent double standards on the part of Tory Ian Lucas.
The ardent mobile phone mast opponent was forced into an embarrassing apology after the Lib Dems revealed he, in fact, had a mast at his garden business.
Nationally, Eastbourne was seen as important, with both Charles Kennedy and Michael Howard making fleeting visits in the run-up to bolster support.
Coun Marsden paid tribute to Mr Howard for reinvigorating the party.
He said: "There is a groundswell and it is completely down to the resurgence of the Conservative Party under Michael Howard."
Lib Dem leader Beryl Healy was magnanimous in defeat.
She said: "I do believe that one should not whinge in defeat or crow in victory.
"One takes the swings and roundabouts of political fortune as they come."
The turnout was considerably higher than last year, partly because of postal voting.
Figures were confirmed at almost 41 per cent, an increase of seven per cent on 2003.
Elected: *Margaret Bannister (LD) 1,177 Not elected: Kenneth Graham (C) 1,040, Clive Gross (G) 239, Richard Goude (L) 178 HAMPDEN PARK:
Elected: *Michael Thompson (LD) 988 Not elected: Edward Abella (C) 636, David Brinson (L) 356, Leslie Dalton (G) 222 LANGNEY:
Elected: *Irene Sims (LD) 1,210 Not elected: Thomas Walters (C) 921, Steven Scott (L) 164, Christine Quarrington (G) 137 MEADS:
Elected: *Barry Taylor (C) 2,672 Not elected: Steven Wallis (LD) 689, Kate Arnold (G) 271, Dennis Scard (L) 221 OLD TOWN:
Elected: Simon Herbert (C) 1,926, *Maurice Skilton (LD) 1,854 Not elected: John Stanbury (C) 1,816, Patricia Habets (LD) 1,739, Catharine Birchwood (G) 355, Jocelyn McCarthy (G) 289, Jonathan Pettigrew (L) 155, Robert Rossetter (L) 132 RATTON:
Elected: *Barbara Goodall (C) 2,227 Not elected: Peter Durrant (LD) 702, Martin Falkner (L) 233, Kevin Moore (G) 225 ST ANTHONY'S:
Elected: * Jon Harris (LD) 1,441 Not elected: Judith Kim-Symes (C) 1,200, Hugh Norris (G) 242, Nora Ring (L) 176 SOVEREIGN:
Elected: * Christopher Williams (C) 1,517 Not elected: Margaret Salsbury (LD) 806, Nancy Dalton (G) 229 UPPERTON:
Elected: * Robert Lacey (C) 1,754 Not elected: Patrick Rodohan (LD) 724, Finbar O'Shea (G) 255, Margaret Pettigrew (L) 212 Results key:
denotes sitting councillor
C Conservative G Green I Independent L Labour LD Liberal Democrat UKIP United Kingdom Independence Party BNP British National Party