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Archive - Saturday, 6 May 2006
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Power decided by luck of the draw
The Conservatives seized power on Crawley Borough Council after 35 years with a nail-biting race for the finish which was eventually decided by drawing lots.
The Tory and Labour candidates for the final seat polled 500 votes each after three recounts.
It was decided the fate of the council's political balance would be decided by pulling lots from envelopes.
Adam Brown, Tory candidate for Broadfield North, drew the piece of paper with the word "elected" on it, handing control of Crawley to the Conservatives for the first time since 1971.
Former Big Brother contestant Eugene Sully, the 29-year-old broadcast engineer who pocketed £50,000 after coming second in last year's Channel 4 show, was hoping to become Labour councillor for the Crawley ward of Furnace Green but failed in his attempt.
Chris Redmayne, former Labour leader of Crawley council said of his party's loss: "We've stuck with local issues and local matters. We've lost this council but we'll be back."
Bob Lanzer, the new leader of Crawley Council, said the outcome was "truly historic" and had been won on a "proper vision of political leadership".
The national picture, of Tories gaining seats from Labour was replicated in districts and boroughs across Sussex.
The Tories won control of Hastings for the first time since 1979 after snatching four seats.
The result capped a remarkable resurgence for the Conservatives in the town.
When Hastings voted in its first ever Labour council in 1998 not one Tory was elected.
Coun Peter Pragnell, of Hastings Conservatives, said: "We were in the doldrums but we always knew we would be back.
"Labour nationally has done us a huge favour in recent weeks and seemingly tried to hand it to us on a plate."
Beleaguered Labour supporters woke up yesterday morning to the stark reality that nationally the party had lost 250 seats, with many of them being picked up by the once faltering Tory party.
In Worthing, the Tories held on to power with a reduced majority of 24-13, with the Liberal Democrats taking three seats from them.
Sheila Player, former leader of the Lib Dems on the council, was voted back into office in Broadwater two years after being ousted by the electorate.
Lib Dem Diane Jones, 22, became Worthing's youngest ever councillor when she was elected to serve Northbrook.
In Eastbourne, the Tories held on to the borough, gaining a seat from the Lib Dems in the process.
In Adur, the Conservatives remained in power, gaining one seat while Labour lost two.
The results mean Sussex is now swathed in a sea of blue, except for Brighton and Hove City Council which has no party in overall control and Lewes District Council, which is also hung but has a minority control Lib Dem council.
The result nationally is the best the Tories have had since 1992 and led Prime Minister Tony Blair to re-shuffle his cabinet yesterday.