Tories improve majority in Worthing

The Argus: Bryan Turner, Kevin Skepper and Roger Oakley celebrate their success Bryan Turner, Kevin Skepper and Roger Oakley celebrate their success

A former Lib Dem Mayor of Worthing has been accused of sour grapes after losing his seat.

Selden ward councillor James Doyle was dismayed when he saw ballot papers bearing the words "Conservative, Stop Hospital Cuts" alongside Tory candidate Roger Oakley's name.

He believed this subliminally persuaded many people to vote Conservative as they stood at the booth with pencil in hand even though the campaign to save medical services at Worthing Hospital had cross-party support.

Mr Doyle said: "I found that very disappointing. So much for the hospital campaign being non-political. It was legal, but whether it was in the spirit of things is another matter."

Coun Keith Mercer, leader of the Conservatives, accused Mr Doyle of sour grapes, adding: "The Lib Dems could have used the same slogan, but they missed the opportunity.

"I think it is sour grapes. I feel very sad for him, but that's politics."

The Tories used the same slogan on all their candidates' ballot papers but Mr Doyle referred to the hospital only in his election leaflets.

He proved the major Lib Dem scalp on a night when the Conservatives increased their tally of councillors by one to 24. With the Lib Dems on 12 and one independent, the Tories have a majority of 11.

Conservative coun John Livermore, his arm in a sling, comfortably retained his Heene seat despite a recent fall which left him with a smashed eye socket, cheek bone and elbow.

The biggest Tory cheers came when Kevin Skepper was elected to Broadwater, previously a Lib Dem stronghold, to become the first Conservative to hold the seat since 1975.

Coun Skepper had previously defected from the Lib Dems to the Tories.

Voters went to the polling stations in 11 of the town's 13 wards, with Northbrook and Durrington exempt this year.

The Tories have now been in power for three years after crushing the Lib Dems in 2004.

In Goring, Dawn Smith stood for Stop Durrington's Overdevelopment - Save Titnore's Trees, as a protest against plans to built 875 homes on countryside in the north west of the borough.

Wearing a top hat decorated with leaves, she polled 174 votes.

In the Castle ward, where two seats were up for grabs, there were four recounts before the Lib Dems claimed a double victory.

Key: C Con, LD Lib Dem, Lab Labour, G Green, UKIP UK Independence Party.

* denotes sitting councillor Broadwater Elected: *Kevin Skepper (C), 1,062. Not elected: Gary Riding (LD) 941, John Turley (Lab) 136.

Castle Elected: * Robin Rogers (LD) 1,025, David Potter (LD) 952. Not elected: Bill Capper (C) 944, Ruth White (C) 924, Julian Warrick (G) 251, Chris Chatfield (UKIP) 204.

Central Elected: *Clive Roberts (C) 874. Not elected: Janet Goldsbrough-Jones (LD) 630, James Pearson (G) 263, Tony Smith (Lab) 180, Christopher Woodward (UKIP) 99.

Gaisford Elected: *Bryan Turner (C) 1,085. Not elected: Andrew Muggeridge (LD) 844, Tori Finney (Lab) 168, Marie Hillcoat (G) 193.

Goring Elected: *Ann Sayers (C) 1,817. Not elected: Merlin Jones (LD) 410, Richard Bater (UKIP) 323, Dawn Smith (Save TitnoreÕs Trees) 174, Janet Haden (Lab) 165.

Heene Elected: *John Livermore (C) 1,003. Not elected: Alan Jones (LD) 446, Derek Colkett (G) 248, Stuart Field (UKIP) 173.

Marine Elected: *Keith Mercer (C) 1,511. Not elected: Susan Withnell (LD) 344, Sam Colkett (G) 201, Phil Ruddock (UKIP) 171, Barrie Slater (Lab) 155.

Offington Elected: *Graham Fabes (C) 1,845. Not elected: Norah Fisher (LD) 425, Hazel Rennie (Lab) 121.

Salvington Elected: *Noel Atkins (C) 1,530. Not elected: Michael Cranefield (LD) 603, Ron Brooks (UKIP) 364.

Selden Elected: Roger Oakley (C) 962. Not elected: *James Doyle (LD) 950, Ann Saunders (Lab) 216.

Tarring Elected: *Hazel Thorpe (LD) 1,259. Not elected: John Rose (C) 632, Martin McGinlay (UKIP) 144, Sid Wells (Lab) 125.

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