SEAFRONT investment, improving hospital services and creating jobs will be priorities for Eastbourne Borough Council as it heads into a third term under Liberal Democrat control.

Councillor David Tutt, the re-elected leader of the council, said “we will do our best to protect the most vulnerable in society” as he celebrated his party increasing its majority by three seats.

The party took Upperton ward from the Tories, giving it 18 councillors to their opponents’ nine, a resounding victory one day after former Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd lost his parliamentary seat.

Coun Tutt welcomed the result as a “massive vote of confidence and an endorsement for Stephen Lloyd and all his work.”

He added: “Also importantly it is about the programme we have already delivered and the fact that when we said we would not increase council tax we did not.”

The Lib Dem and the Conservatives remain the only two parties on the council, with the Liberal Democrats holding the wards of Devonshire, Hampden Park, Langney, Old Town and St Anthony’s and winning all three seats in Upperton, while the Tories held onto Meads, Ratton and Sovereign.

Lib Dem Councillor Pat Rodohan, who also represents Upperton on the county council, put his win down to “working for people in the area”.

He added: “People were not frightened off by an advertising campaign.

“I am referring to the huge spending on the election in general.

“And we won because of the popularity of the outgoing MP.”

Fellow newly elected Upperton councillor Sammy Choudhury, a businessman entering politics, said he stood “to help people,” while Dean Sabri, elected to St Anthony’s ward, said he hoped to deliver “more affordable housing, that is really affordable”.

Ukip came third in many of the seats, with its Ratton candidate David Alfred, who got 924 votes, saying “people wanted change”. Elected Langney Lib Dem councillor Troy Tester said he and his fellow ward councillors won because “we are the only people they actually see outside of election time.”

He added: “We keep in touch with people on a regular basis.

“We want to keep council tax down, protect services, increase recycling and protect the open development.”

The make-up of the new Eastbourne Borough Council
Liberal Democrats    18
Conservatives    9


AFTER the Liberal Democrats’ Stephen Lloyd lost his seat in a general election that was catastrophic for the party, its control of the council suddenly looked on shaky ground.

But in the end voters locally stuck to the party in charge since 2007, when the Tories left the council “on the brink of government intervention”, according to its current leader.

As to why voters’ general election choice was so different, many Liberal Democrats at the count blamed Tory scaremongering about a Labour-SNP coalition.

“I am not complaining,” added incumbent council leader David Tutt, adding: “This is politics and it is a cruel business, but they were telling people if they did not vote Conservative then we would have Nicola Sturgeon running the country.

“That was enough [for] people that wanted to vote for Stephen to give their vote to the Tories and I think they are probably regretting it. But we will fight.”

Whatever the blame, the two parties will now have to work together, with the Liberal Democrats more powerful in the council but Eastbourne represented in parliament by a Conservative MP.

Mr Tutt said that was “going to make life harder,” adding: “Stephen Lloyd is not only a very special person but has been outstanding and working with him has made things very much easier as we are clearly joined on our politics.”

The ousted MP attended the count to watch his party hold onto the council, while looking tentatively at his own future with an “enormous mortgage” to pay. He added: “I have been overwhelmed by the response from the whole town over the last 24 hours. I am very grateful and touched to the core.”