LABOUR celebrated a landmark victory at the county council elections in Hastings early today (Friday).
The party took three extra seats out of the eight wards in the borough.
Newcomers to County Hall now include Michael Wincott, who took the Baird and Ore seat, John Hodges, who defeated veteran Conservative county councillor Matthew Lock in grabbing the seat for St Helens and Silverhill ward and Kim Forward, who was elected as county councillor for Maze Hill and West St Leonards by a majority of just 65 compared to the Conservative candidate Rob Lee, who had the second highest number of votes in the ward.
The first results of today’s election count did not come until 12.40am, with the Maze Hill and West St Leonards needing a recount.
Before today both the Tories and Labour each had four Hastings county councillors.
The election result now leaves only one Conservative councillor, Peter Pragnell, who keeps his seat on Ashdown and Conquest ward.
Labour councillors Trevor Webb, Godfrey Daniel, Phil Scott and Jeremy Birch were able to keep their county council seats in their respective wards.
Cllr Birch, who is also leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “One hundred years ago someone who is very important to us in Hastings was born and that was Robert Tressell. He wrote about Hastings and working life and wrote about a vision that is fundamentally better. That inspires me and still inspires the Labour party in Hastings.
“We are reasserting ourselves and we do not stand for austerity and cuts that this Government is hoisting upon us.”
Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “We have never had as large a group as seven Labour councillors from Hastings on the county council, not even in 1997, when we only had six.
“We gained more than 42 per cent of the vote tonight across Hastings.
“It sends a strong message that people are backing the hard work that the Hastings borough councillors are doing and want to see that at county level.
“People have said they have been struck by the unfairness of the Government cuts and wanted people on the county council who really understand what it is like to live in Hastings and how tough it is for them, whether that’s businessmen, people in the public sector and young families.”
Despite Labour’s gains in the eight Hastings wards on the county council, Cllr Pragnell said: “It’s been an interesting day and you can’t legislate for protest votes. I am delighted to hang onto the seat in Ashdown and Conquest ward and would like to thank all those who have shown their confidence in giving me another four years at County Hall.
“We have turned the county council into a four-star excellent council since taking over control 12 years ago.”
To view photos from the election count, click on the MULTIMEDIA link to the right of this page.