ELATED LibDems swept back to power in Eastbourne early this morning with a crucial three-seat majority.

In a night of high drama, the yellows reversed the defeat of two years ago due largely to the pivotal Old Town ward.

The Conservatives won 12 seats but lost 15 including all three in Old Town which saw a comparatively huge 45 per cent turn out.

No other party got a look in.

Visibly dejected Tory leader Cllr Graham Marsden, who held his Ratton seat comfortably, blamed boundary changes and a 'misinformed' electorate for the devastating defeat.

But others blasted fellow county Conservatives for 'shooting themselves in the foot' over the controversial Old Town Library issue.

Buoyant LibDem chief Cllr Beryl Healy said voters had reacted to ongoing problems with dumped cars and antisocial behaviour, but also promised the library in Victoria Drive was now high on the agenda. She said, 'When we get over the celebrations we will be meeting to discus the way forward. It's a new start for Eastbourne and we have an awful lot of work to do to make Eastbourne right.

'With regards to the future of the Old Town Library building, we're hoping to reverse the Tory decision. We would like to see the Friends take it over. But there is a six-month rule that we have to abide by as well as financial implications.'

Cllr Marsden said, 'I was very disappointed at the result overall. the wards were divided up into new boundaries which made them difficult to forcast.'

Referring briefly to the Old Town Library issue he went on, 'Decisions have to be made by different authorities for different reasons. Confusion was created in the minds of many people in Eastbourne as to who was responsible for it.'

But Mayor Cllr David Stevens said, 'The decisions made by Lewes counted against the Eastbourne Tories. We have done a lot of good over the past to years and I do not think members of the public have acknowledged it.'

And Cllr Colin Belsey (Cons), who won back his Ratton seat, added, 'I think the Tories have shot themselves in the foot, and I think other people are shooting us in the foot. But we are all able bodied people and we will fight back.'

Deputy leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Bob Lacey (Cons), added, 'I feel members of the electorate were misled with regards to the issue in Old Town.'

DEVONSHIRE (8496 - electorate)

27.9 per cent turn out

Beryl Healy (LD) - 1600

Beryl Teso (LD) - 1480

Neil Stanley (LD) - 1462


29.2 per cent

Mary Pooley (LD) - 1278

Michael Thompson (LD) - 1149

Olive Woodall (LD) - 1145

LANGNEY (7752)

25.8 per cent

Chris Berry (LD) - 1255

Irene Sims (LD) - 1178

Robert Slater (LD) - 1118

MEADS (8216)

38.9 per cent

(M) David Stevens (C) - 2001

Barry Taylor (C) - 1967

David Elkin (C) - 1949

OLD TOWN (8244)

45 per cent

Burt Leggett (LD) - 2161

Maurice Skilton (LD) - 2153

John Creaven (LD) - 1942

RATTON (7944)

35.4 per cent

Colin Belsey (C) - 1641

Barbara Goodall (C) - 1628

Sandy Howlett (C) - 1564


35.8 per cent

David Tutt (LD) - 2005

John Harris (LD) - 1987

Norman Marsh (LD) - 1907


31.8 per cent

Patrick Bowker (C) - 1001

Chris Williams (C) - 970

Patrick Warner (C) - 925


34 per cent

Graham Marsden (C) - 1390

Bob Lacey (C) - 1332

Anne Murray (C) - 1331

AVERAGE TURN OUT - 35 per cent