12:00pm Wednesday 3rd May 2006
Voters will be heading to polling stations across Sussex tomorrow to vote in the local council elections.
The Argus looks at the key areas where recent issues could stir up some unlikely results.
Eastbourne Borough Council
Current make-up: Conservative 14, Lib Dem 13.
Position up for election: One third.
Eastbourne Tories are hoping they will retain their one-seat majority when voters hit the polling stations on Thursday.
The Conservatives have not been sitting comfortably with 14 seats compared with Lib Dems' 13 seats for the past year.
And with parking issues dividing the town and the Lib Dems using them at every opportunity there is a real chance Eastbourne could swing towards the Lib Dems.
Last week the Conservatives issued a statement to say controversial parking plans would not be imposed against residents' wishes. Council leader Ian Lucas accused the Lib Dems of "stirring" and being "outrageously economical with the truth".
He said East Sussex County Council, which is responsible for parking issues and will make the ultimate decision, was in agreement with the Borough Council, and will not introduce a separate scheme.
But the Lib Dems warned it is just a tactic until the elections are over.
There are nine seats up for grabs in nine wards, each of which has four nominees in the running - one each from Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour and the Green Party.
Four of the seats being contested are currently held by the Tories and three are held by the Lib Dems.
But the Lib Dems are also battling the loss of two of their councillors who are stepping down from their seats leaving a free-for-all situation.
Beryl Healy, of Devonshire Ward, and Chris Berry, of Langney Ward, will be standing down leaving their wards open.
The party is also facing strong opposition in the Old Town ward where the seat is currently held by Lib Dem Maurice Skilton.
But Green Party representative Clive Gross has been vocal in recent months and could introduce a third party to council meetings.
Other issues which will influence the voters will be the Save the DGH campaign, which is gathering momentum as protesters try to save the maternity and paediatric units, and now the hospital itself, from closure.
Crawley Borough Council
Current make-up: Labour 19, Conservative 16, Lib Dem 2.
Portion up for election: One third.
Thursday's ballot could go either way in Crawley, with a present Labour majority of just one seat.
The elections could see the Conservatives taking control for the first time since 1969.
The 15 wards are represented by 37 councillors and at the moment 19 are Labour, 16 are Conservative and two are Liberal Democrat.
But the BNP is hoping to make gains in Crawley, with four candidates standing for election.
There is also a splash of celebrity with last year's Big Brother competitor Eugene Sully trying his luck for a second time - this time in the more Labour-friendly ward of Furnace Green.
Not to be outdone the Conservative candidate in the same ward also has a celebrity link. Mike Weatherley, a Conservative candidate in last year's General Election for Brighton Pavilion, has worked with well-known music producer Pete Waterman.
For Labour, following recent successes such as the opening of the K2 sports centre, it is a case of continuing its strong record. Keeping council tax low, pushing cash towards communities especially to clean up the streets and strengthening ongoing work on community safety are all priorities.
Revisiting the whole complicated saga of travellers and site provision is a long-term ambition.
The Conservative platform is similar, with cleaner streets, valuefor- money council services and the environment on its agenda.
Being tough on crime, antisocial behaviour and "illegal travellers" are further themes - as well as the drive for a more inclusive council.
The Liberal Democrats want to restore trust among people who have been let down by council pronouncements in the past.
Just as Crawley Hospital was a burning issue during last year's General Election, it remains a key issue among voters who want the restoration of maternity and accident and emergency services to the town and a new hospital to serve the growing population.
While borough councillors do not hold the purse strings they can campaign for this and it would seem whoever shouts the loudest for improved healthcare during the rest of the campaign could be one step closer to success at the count.
Hastings Borough Council
Current make-up: Labour 14, Conservative 13, Lib Dem 5.
Portion up for election: Half.
The balance of power at Hastings Borough Council is up in the air ahead of tomorrow's ballot.
The resignation last month of Labour councillor Aileen McDonnell leaves 13 Labour seats, 13 Conservative and five Liberal Democrat.
Of the total 32 seats, 17 will be contested this time.
Spectators say the three most likely outcomes are that either Labour will cling to its minority control, the Tories will win at least five seats to seize an overall majority or gain one or two to wrest a slim controlling minority.
It is thought unlikely that Labour will muster enough support to win back the overall majority it lost two years ago, while a significant Lib Dem charge is not expected.
The town returned to a Labour council for the first time in its history in 1998, the year after it elected its first Labour MP Michael Foster.
Before that the council had intermittently changed hands between Tory and Liberal administrations.
Headed by strong characters in leader Jeremy Birch and his deputy Jay Kramer, the Labour council has overseen a distinct upturn in the fortunes of Hastings.
The town was at its lowest ebb ten or 15 years ago and came to epitomise the typical down-at-heel seaside resort.
But the image of Hastings has improved under this Labour council thanks largely to an injection of regeneration cash, which has led to exciting developments such as the university centre and developments at Station Plaza and Robertson Street.
The council claims to have transformed the run-down seafront with imaginative new lighting schemes and its famous Grotbusters campaign, which forced owners of derelict properties to smarten them up.
The Labour regime's aim has been to drag Hastings out of the doldrums and create a thriving town with jobs for its young people and renewed appeal for tourists.
But its progressive programme of change has alienated many residents.
Plans to transform parts of the cherished Old Town and build a giant Sir Norman Foster-designed hotel development on the seafront at Pelham Crescent have been met with horror by many. The introduction of on-street parking charges have also proved unpopular.
There is a perception by some residents that the Labour administration is arrogant - pushing through its agenda without any real public consultation.
Tomorrow there is a distinct possibility that the party's nine-year reign could come to an end.
Rother District Council is also holding by-elections for three seats to replace Tory councillors who have resigned. But an overwhelming Conservative majority makes a shift in power impossible.
Adur District Council
Current make-up: Conservative 25, Labour 2, independents 2.
Portion up for election: Half.
There can be no overall shift in power when Adur voters go to the polls tomorrow.
The Conservatives have a stranglehold on Adur District Council, controlling all but four of its 29 seats.
Labour and the Independents, with two seats each, have no chance of upsetting the political balance. In fact, the Tory grip on power is so complete that nobody is standing against them in two wards.
Elections will be held in 12 of Adur's 14 wards, but Eastbrook and Buckingham have technically already been decided.
Conservatives Jim Funnell and Gavin Ayling face no opposition at all after the parties failed to put up a single candidate against them.
Ian Lowrie, Adur's chief executive and returning officer, believes it is the first time in at least 20 years that there has been an uncontested election in any ward.
He told The Argus: "I am disappointed as it means that voters have no choice in these wards. We will continue to do what we can to encourage active local democracy."
Melanie Blunden is one of the bestknown councillors who will definitely not be elected.
The chairman of Adur's planning committee has decided not to stand again in Buckingham ward after six years.
Adur is an area of mixed fortunes with some of the wealthiest and poorest areas of West Sussex sitting side-by-side.
Shoreham Beach with its luxury seafront homes and the Mill Hill area of Shoreham boast some of the best properties in the district.
But neighbouring Fishersgate is recognised as an area of deprivation, low employment, and poor housing. Shoreham itself, once considered a run-down town, is undergoing a renaissance.
It is now seen as an affordable alternative to Brighton and Hove. More and more it is being chosen as the place to live by professionals and families with young children. The Ropetackle site has brought new life and a new look to the town centre after it lay derelict for decades.
Plans to regenerate both the centre of Shoreham and the brownfield sites at Shoreham harbour continue to hold hope for the future.
The former Parcel Force depot on the A259 coast road has been sold and new owners Urban Life will unveil their plans for it in the next few weeks. The project is thought to include a hotel, restaurant and more housing including much-needed affordable homes.
Still more homes are being built to bring new life and money into Shoreham Beach.
There are also plans for an iconic footbridge linking Shoreham Beach with the town centre and a possible Thames Barrier-style floodgate to protect the area from flooding.
The regeneration of the area around Shoreham Community Centre is also expected to have a major impact on the town.
In Lancing vandalism and antisocial behaviour by local yobs continues to be a key issue.
The council itself has long struggled to make ends meet financially and recent moves to provide free bus travel for pensioners has stretched the purse strings even further.
A proposed cost-cutting merger with neighbouring Worthing Borough Council could have saved money.
But it was put on the back-burner after both councils realised the costs of setting it up were too high.
In the meantime, they continue to look at ways of combining services such as recycling and refuse and vehicle maintenance.
Worthing Borough Council
Current make up: Conservatives 26, Liberal Democrat 11.
Portion up for election: One third.
The balance of power is not expected to change in Worthing, where the Tories dominate the town hall's debating chamber.
However, the Liberal Democrats are hoping to make inroads into the ruling Conservative group's overwhelming majority.
There is a vacancy in each of the 13 wards where existing councillors have reached the end of their terms of office.
The seats up for re-election are currently held by nine Conservatives and four Lib Dems.
In the Durrington ward there will be a by-election on the same day due to the resignation of Tory councillor Richard Falk, who has moved to the Isle of Man.
Former Lib Dem council leader Sheila Player is standing for election in Broadwater.
Candidates have been ordered by the council's interim chief executive, Ian Lowrie, not to discuss the "Sherylgate" controversy. The order refers to the recent settlement of the saga involving former chief executive, Sheryl Grady, who received an undisclosed pay-off from the council in March after being off sick for more than two years.
The affair has cost the town's taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal and other costs.
Some candidates have reacted angrily to what they perceive to be a gagging clause, stating that if the subject came up on the doorstep they would discuss it.
Others have decided to follow the town hall edict.
The Tories are campaigning on a number of tickets, including the proposed £100 million revamp of Teville Gate to include a swimming pool, multiplex cinema, tenpin bowling alley, shops and restaurants. But the Lib Dems fear the existing Aquarena will be sold off for luxury housing rather than being retained for leisure use.
They are also angry at the Tories' failure to fund the Shopmobility scheme which offers wheelchair/electric buggy transport for the disabled.
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