Lib Dems keep control but lose seats to Tories

Newly elected Conservative councillors celebrate at the count.

Newly elected Conservative councillors celebrate at the count.

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THE LIBERAL Democrats have narrowly clung on to control of Eastbourne Borough Council.

The party lost five seats to the Conservatives after a fiercely fought election campaign which finished in the early hours of Friday morning after the count at the Winter Garden.

The Lib Dems now have 15 seats on the council and the Conservatives have 12.

More than 44 per cent of the town’s population turned out to vote in the elections to choose 27 members to sit on the council – three in each of the nine wards, Devonshire, Hampden Park, Langney, Meads, Ratton, Old Town, Sovereign, Upperton and St Anthony’s.

The Liberal Democrats have retained the majority at the Town Hall but suffered heavy defeats losing three councillors in Sovereign, where deputy mayor Margaret Salsbury lost her seat, and two seats in Upperton.

The three new councillors in Sovereign are Tories Gordon Jenkins, Philip Ede and Patrick Warner.

In Upperton Lib Dem Alex Hough lost her seat and Lib Dem Rebecca Madell stood down.

The incoming councillors are Tory trio Annabelle West, Tom Liddiard and Alun Cooke.

Hampden Park, regarded as wide open in the run up to the election, was disappointing for the Conservatives who had hoped to steal at least one seat from the Lib Dems.

Newcomers Pat Hearn and Jim Murray will join Mike Thompson in the village.

Old Town proved to be a bone of contention and there was a recount of votes because of a handful of votes separating Conservative Anne Angel and Lib Dem John Ungar.

In the end John Ungar was declared the winner with only 12 more votes than the popular campaigner Mrs Angel.

Carolyn Heaps, the town’s mayor, hung on to her seat with a very comfortable majority and had the most number of votes of any candidate in the elections. She and John Ungar are joined by Tory newcomer Janet Coles.

In Langney the Liberal Democrats kept their three seats and councillors Harun Miah and Troy Tester are now joined by Lib Dem stalwart Alan Shuttleworth, who is making a return to local politics.

It was the same story in Devonshire where Lib Dems Margaret Bannister, Steve Wallis and Neil Stanley were re-elected for another four years and in St Anthony’s with councillors Jon Harris and Gill Mattock and council leader David Tutt retaining their seats.

In Meads and Ratton the Conservative flag is still flying with the re-election of David Elkin, Nigel Goodyear and Barry Taylor in the former and long-standing councillors Sandie Howlett and Colin Belsey are joined by new colleague Colin Murdoch in the latter.

• Click on the elections link in the news menu above for full election results.