It may have been the Lib Dems who were celebrating on Thursday night, having managed to hold on to all their Eastbourne seats on the county council, but it was UKIP who declared themselves to be a “a prominent force’ in the town after coming second in seven out of nine wards.
Bob Lacey, who defected from the Conservative party to UKIP after serving on the borough and county councils as a Tory candidate, thanked everyone involved in the elections on behalf of the party and paid tribute to those who manned the polling stations and counted the votes.
“We are particularly pleased at UKIP to have become such a prominent force in the town of Eastbourne,” he said.
“We have now doubled our vote since the previous election. It’s a good standing ground for us in the future.
“It’s been a splendid evening and it has been done, broadly, in a harmonious way.”
David Tutt, leader of Eastbourne Borough Council and paid tribute to everyone who was involved in the campaign. “It’s been a long hard slog,” he added. “As far as the result is concerned, I am absolutely delighted. We started with two-thirds of our seats and we’ve come out of the election with two-thirds of the seats.”
Mr Tutt won the seat he was contesting in St Anthony’s Ward, with 1,304 votes. Second was UKIP’s Christine Woodley with 757 votes.
Eastbourne Borough Council’s Conservative spokesman David Elkin also won his seat in Sovereign, with 1,086 votes.
He said on the evening, “I guess I must start by thanking all the husbands and the wives.”
He said that ‘one particular party’ had made an impact on the elections and added, “I look forward to seeing where they go next.”
Gerry Stonestreet, vice-chair of Eastbourne Labour Party, told the Town Hall count it had been a ‘great evening’.
“Four years ago we had a disastrous night. This year it shows that we are back in business. We are moving forward as a political force in this town. The next few years there are elections coming up and you look over your shoulder and we are going to be there.”
He added, “Although we did not win, we had the satisfaction of more than doubling the Labour vote compared to last time and finishing above the Tories, giving us our best result for a long time.”
Mr Stonestreet scooped 373 votes in Devonshire Ward, where the winner was LibDem Steve Wallis with 893 votes and UKIP’s Bob Lacey coming second with 638 votes.
Green candidate Hugh Norris scooped just 76 votes in Sovereign Ward (one of three wards the Greens stood in including Ratton and Meads, and Independent candidate Keith Gell won just 48 votes in Devonshire.