The ArgusLib Dem landslide in Eastbourne (From The Argus)

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Lib Dem landslide in Eastbourne

The Liberal Democrats celebrated a landslide in Eastbourne taking 20 out of the 27 seats on the borough council.

The Tories were left reeling after being reduced to a rump of seven seats. The Lib Dems have a majority of 13.

Before the elections, the Conservatives had a five-seat majority after Lib Dem councillor Irene Sims' resignation in February.

Casualties of the night included Tory leader Ian Lucas in Old Town, cabinet finance lead member Chris Williams in Sovereign, Eastbourne Buses chairman Patrick Warner in Sovereign and Upperton's Bob Lacey.

Both parties agreed that two issues dominated on the doorsteps - parking charges and councillors' expenses.

Members recently voted themselves a 52% rise in expenses, while unpopular parking charges are due to be introduced in the town this year.

The charges are being brought in by East Sussex County Council and the Lib Dems were able to point out that the Tories control the county.

It is no surprise that the highest turnout was in Old Town, where people traditionally march to the polls and where the parking charges are likely to hit hardest.

The first Lib Dem victory on the evening came in Sovereign when they ousted three Tory councillors.

Patrick Bowker, who chose not to stand for re-election, Patrick Warner and Chris Williams made way for Michael Bloom, Susan Morris and Margaret Salsbury.

Later came the most surprising result of the evening came when the Tories lost two seats in Upperton, formerly a party stronghold.

Lib Dems Alex Hough and Rebecca Madell were at the expense of long-serving Tories Bob Lacey and Ann Murray but Graham Marsden held on to his seat.

The Lib Dems retained St Anthony's, Devonshire, Hampden Park and Langney wards.

The Tories retained their safe Meads and Ratton wards.

Lib Dem leader David Tutt said: "We have a team that will take this town forward and we have some exciting times ahead.

"My first objective will be to decrease allowances. We are going to scrap the increase and make it a 2.7% increase in line with what pensioners and police get.

"The second thing is to call upon the county council to scrap pay to park'."

He added his long-term goals were to double recycling, ensuring Eastbourne becomes a carbon neutral town and increase employment opportunities for youngsters.

Ousted leader Ian Lucas said: "I'm personally gutted and I think it is a disappointing day for Eastbourne.

"We expected to retain control.

"After a long battle with the county council we come to an arrangement on the parking scheme for the town.

"It was initially popular but proved unpopular and it means as a result we have lost the council."

To see the results click here.

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