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Tories make big gains in city and county
Political heavyweights across Sussex are waking up today stripped of their power, prestige and salaries after a series of shock results.
Brighton and Hove proved one of the most compelling fights as the Conservatives and Greens cut chunks out of the once Labour dominated-council.
The Tories are now the biggest party, with 26 councillors, compared to 13 Labour members, while the Greens have established the city as their foremost powerbase in the country with 12 representatives.
In Arun, Chichester, Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex, Rother and Worthing the Tories strengthened their grip on power and cut back the Lib Dems' majority in Lewes.
But it didn't all go their way as David Cameron's rejuvenated party was routed in Eastbourne and lost control of Hastings after two by-elections.
The scalping of a series of high-profile politicians across the county proved one of the biggest surprises to emerge from Thursday's 11 elections in Sussex.
In Brighton and Hove, the leader of the council Simon Burgess, deputy leader Sue John, mayor elect Ken Bodfish and chief whip Brian Fitch all lost their seats.
Mr Burgess, who hopes to be the Labour parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown at the next general election, said: "We are not going to be hiding away and if anything I feel even more determined to stop the Conservatives taking back control of the parliamentary seats."
Labour said the Tony Blaireffect had caused them woes but also pointed to a series of controversial moves on secondary school admissions and plans to sell off council housing stock.
Conservative leader Brian Oxley said low council tax, safer streets and tackling antisocial behaviour would be a few of his aims over the next four years.
The business community has welcomed cross-party support for the regeneration of the Brighton Centre, the city's key economic driver, and Tony Mernagh, executive director of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said his group was ready to work with all parties.
He said: "The two problems facing Brighton and Hove are transport and affordable housing."
Gill Mitchell, now leader of the Labour group after Mr Burgess lost his seat, warned it was the Tories' pro-car agenda which put the city most at risk.
Coun Oxley, however, said his party seeks simply to rebalance transport priorities.
In Eastbourne, parking plans played a part in the Tories losing control of the borough council and their misery was made worse by losing their leader, Ian Lucas, and Cabinet finance lead member Chris Williams.
The Liberal Democrats took 20 seats, reducing the Tories to just seven seats out of 27.
Mid Sussex saw the Conservatives cement control of the council with 30 seats, and a majority of seven, but lose their leader Patrick Shanahan. The Lib Dems' leader Graham Knight also lost his seat.
The Tories made gains in Lewes, cutting the Lib Dems majority from 16 to six and ousting council chairwoman Marina Pepper.
In Worthing, the Lib Dems failed to make ground on the Conservative administration, which has increased its majority by one to 24.
The leader of Wealden District Council, Nigel Coltman, and Lib Dem leader Laura Murphy both lost their seats as the Tories retained 34 councillors.
The Liberal Democrats lost two seats, taking them to 12, the Independents and non-affiliated candidates took seven seats and the Green Party gained two.
The Tories won with style in Horsham as the party claimed eight seats from the Lib Dems and extended their majority on the council from two to 18.
Labour group leader Jan Cosgrove, a district councillor for 14 years, was the major casualty in the Arun District Council election, as the Conservatives secured 43 of the 56 seats.
Chichester District Council now has an extra eight Conservative councillors, making it 34 Tories to 11 Lib Dems.
The Conservatives have also strengthened their hold on Crawley by gaining four seats from the Labour party.
Labour bucked the national trend in Hastings as the Tories lost control of the borough council in two by-elections.
The Conservatives remain the biggest party with 15 seats, but a Lib-Lab coalition could seize power.
Rother proved a comfortable victory as the Conservatives took 28 out of 38 places.