News and Views from Election 2006

THE LAST time the Conservatives held an overall majority in Hastings Borough Council, Margaret Thatcher was a fledgling Prime Minister, Wayne Rooney's foot wasn't even conceived, and film fans were flocking to a new war movie called Apocalypse Now.

Now the Tories will have the power to set the agenda of the town's regeneration for at least the next two years.

Here are the big talking points of Thursday's election contest:

Welcome to Council

The Conservatives won four seats on Thursday, three of them from Labour. Stephen Springthorpe, who ousted Labour's Annette Barton in Silverhill, claimed he was looking forward to working with fellow Tory Michael Lambrechs in the ward. Stephen's son Luke, 16, was elected member of the Youth Parliament for Hastings in March. But Stephen quipped: "He's much more important than me. He gets letters from the government after all."

Terrence Fawthrop nudged Labour's Bob Hart from office in Baird, while Roy Tucker ended Labour-turned-Lib Dem councillor David Hancock's tenure on the council.

But the most impressive win of the night came from Daniel Poulter, who decimated Labour incumbent Andrew Cartwright's re-election hopes by collecting 750 votes. Mr Cartwright managed 417.

Labour's Peter Chowney returned to council after a two-year absence as he filled the Tressell seat made available by Aileen McDonnell's resignation earlier this year.

The Liberal Democrats recovered from the loss of David Hancock by taking Old Hastings from Labour. Susan Palmer will join Lib Dem colleague Richard Stevens in the ward.

Edward 'Peter' Armstrong retained the Lib Dem seat vacated by Pam Brown's retirement, while Labour's Alan Roberts now holds Jeremy Birch's former Wishing Tree seat.

No Place For...

Silverhill incumbent Annette Barton, who was one of seven councillors who won't be back this year. The disappointed candidate said: "We've definitely been overwhelmed by national events in the last two weeks. We'll certainly be back, and we're just hoping they don't make too much of a mess of it while we're away."

Current mayor Pam Brown and former Central St Leonards councillor John Humphries were happy to sit on the sidelines this year. The latter decided not to stand this time, while long-time Castle ward representative Pam Brown is retiring from council after more than 30 years.

Michael Bigg did not stand for Old Hastings this year, but party colleague Arthur Kitson failed to end his two-year exile from council after losing to the Lib Dems.

Melanie Rycroft was among those attempting to fill Pam Brown's vacant seat, but the Labour candidate saw Castle stick with the Lib Dems.

She said: "I did everything I could, but it wasn't to be. We've done such a lot for this town and I would have liked to have been part of continuing that."

Lib Dem Brett McLean finished in last place in West St Leonards, and immediately threw his hat in the ring for 2008.

Mr McLean, who stood as a Rock and Roll Loony candidate at the 2001 general election, said: "As the people of West St Leonards know, I work all year round in the ward and will continue to do so. I will be standing at every available election until I'm elected."

When David Hancock was elected in Ore in 2002, he was a member of the Labour party. The outspoken councillor defected to the Lib Dems in 2004, but failed to coax voters to his new party this year, finishing last as the Tories took control.

He said: "It's not entirely a surprise. Certain members of the council will be overjoyed they've got rid of a big pain in their side.

"I put about 35 to 40 hours a week into reading documents and other council work, so I guess I'm going to have a lot more free time on my hands."

Staying Put

Ashdown's Conservative incumbent John Wilson was in celebratory mood as he increased his hold on the ward. The former Tory chief collected 869 votes, well clear of Labour's Ronald Rushbrook with 346.

He said: "Eight years ago, I was the only Conservative member of the council. I said then we would be back, and tonight we're back."

Fellow Tory Joy Waite admitted she was "ecstatic" after retaining her Maze Hill seat with a crushing victory over her two rivals. Her 843 votes dwarfed the 269 and 298 won by Labour's Georgiana De Lussy and Lib Dem Antony Davis respectively.

Other Tories holding seats included Keith Bing (who bagged 909 votes in St Helens) Peter Finch (who won 602 votes in West St Leonards) and Gladys 'Eve' Martin (whose 913 votes won Conquest).

Labour managed to hold six of their seats. Braybrooke's Godfrey Daniel polled 746 votes, and was optimistic about the party's future in Hastings. He said: "We had a tough time tonight. But we'll be back, and until then we'll be a severe and resilient opposition."

Former deputy leader Jay Kramer held Tressell, securing a Labour one-two punch in the ward with Peter Chowney.

Paul Silverson retained Hollington with 45 per cent of the vote, and former council leader Jeremy Birch won in his home seat of Central St Leonards.

He said: "I've been a socialist all my life and what sustains me through victories and set-backs is my belief in justice, equality and fairness in life, and my commitment to improving the quality of life for the people of this town."

Bad Blood at the Polls

Returning Tressell councillor Jay Kramer accused the Liberal Democrats and Green party of conspiring in a "dirty campaign" to unseat her. Speaking amid a wave of boos from some sections of the crowd, she said: "It's been a dirty campaign, and we've been the only party to fight genuinely for the people of Tressell ward."

She also claimed to be "disappointed and appalled" at the British National Party's decision to stand in the ward.

Fellow Labour councillor Jeremy Birch also slammed other candidates in Central St Leonards for waging "a personal campaign" against him. He said: "It matters not a jot to me what people say, but it absolutely demeans them if they think this is the way to achieve democracy."

Labour MP remains upbeat

He may have seen his party reduced to an opposition role in council, but Hastings and Rye MP Michael Foster rebuked suggestions the night represented an election "melt-down."

He said: "In all but two seats, we've actually increased the Labour vote in every ward in the town. It's just that other parties have scored even better.

"It's tragic we've lost and in my opinion it's a case of unfair dismissal. The town has improved beyond measure and it's difficult to understand why the people who achieved that should be sacked.

"We have to hope the party won't be on stand-by for the next two years waiting to come back. It's unfortunate people took more notice of the events of the last nine days than those of the last nine years."

More Voters Drawn to the Polls

The lure of council elections was evidently much stronger for voters this year. The turnout was over three per cent greater this year than in 2004, and the number of votes cast in the borough was higher despite a significantly smaller electorate.

A total of 22,090 votes were cast this year, which represents 37.6 per cent of the electorate of 58,700. In 2004, 21,766 votes were cast in a total electorate of 63,021, making up a turnout percentage of 34.5.

The turnout this year in the borough was higher than the national average of 36 per cent.

The most enthusiastic ward this year was St Helens, which saw 44.2 per cent of voters turn up to the polls. This was closely followed by 42.2 per cent in Gensing, 42.6 per cent in Old Hastings, 40.5 per cent in Braybrooke and 40.2 per cent in Conquest.

Despite the much-heralded appearance of the British National Party in Hollington, only 29.4 per cent of voters cast their votes in the ward for any party. Former council leader Jeremy Birch's Central St Leonards ward had the second lowest turnout, with 33.1 per cent.


The full results in each ward are:

ASHDOWN (Turnout: 34.5 per cent)

John Wilson (Con - incumbent) - 869 (61 per cent)

Ronald Rushbrook (Lab) - 346 (24.3 per cent)

Wilfrid Pickard (Lib Dem) - 209 (14.7 per cent)



BAIRD (Turnout: 37.1 per cent)

Terrence Fawthrop (Con) - 583 (46.6 per cent)

Bob Hart (Lab - incumbent) - 477 (38.1 per cent)

Oliver Maloney (Lib Dem) - 192 (15.3 per cent)



BRAYBROOKE (Turnout: 40.5 per cent)

Godfrey Daniel (Lab - incumbent) - 747 (52.3 per cent)

Dennis Williams (Con) - 440 (30.8 per cent)

Christine Booth (Lib Dem) - 240 (16.8 per cent)



CASTLE (Turnout: 36.2 per cent)

Edward 'Peter' Armstrong (Lib Dem) - 545 (38.8 per cent)

Melanie Rycroft (Lab) - 450 (32.1 per cent)

Theresa Lock (Con) - 236 (16.8 per cent)

Mary Robertson (Green) - 173 (12.3 per cent)



CENTRAL ST LEONARDS (Turnout: 33.1 per cent)

Jeremy Birch (Lab) - 543 (44.5 per cent)

Evelyn Modlinger (Lib Dem) - 339 (27.8 per cent)

Paul Van Egmond (Con) - 337 (27.6 per cent)



CONQUEST (Turnout: 40.2 per cent)

Gladys 'Eve' Martin (Con - incumbent) - 913 (60.8 per cent)

Alan Roscoe (Lib Dem) - 302 (20.1 per cent)

Emily Westley (Lab) - 287 (19.1 per cent)



GENSING (Turnout: 42.2 per cent)

Daniel Poulter (Con) - 750 (47.2 per cent)

Andrew Cartwright (Lab - incumbent) - 417 (26.2 per cent)

Nathan Lauder (Lib Dem) - 315 (19.8 per cent)

David Carey-Stuart (Green) - 108 (6.8 per cent)



HOLLINGTON (Turnout: 29.4 per cent)

Paul Silverson (Lab - incumbent) - 497 (45 per cent)

Dorothy Lyons (Con) - 220 (19.9 per cent)

David Lovett (BNP) - 199 (18.0 per cent)

Patricia Kennelly (Lib Dem) - 130 (11.8 per cent)

Kevin Young (Green) - 58 (5.3 per cent)



MAZE HILL (Turnout: 36.6 per cent)

Joy Waite (Con - incumbent) - 843 (61.1 per cent)

Georgiana De Lussy (Lab) - 269 (19.5 per cent)

Antony Davis (Lib Dem) - 268 (19.4 per cent)



OLD HASTINGS (Turnout: 42.6 per cent)

Susan Palmer (Lib Dem) - 625 (36.6 per cent)

Arthur Kitson (Lab) - 564 (33 per cent)

Paul Willard (Con) - 519 (30.4 per cent)



ORE (Turnout: 36.3 per cent)

Roy Tucker (Con) - 482 (38.7 per cent)

Richard Street (Lab) - 383 (30.8 per cent)

David Hancock (Lib Dem - incumbent) - 379 (30.5 per cent)



SILVERHILL (Turnout: 39.3 per cent)

Stephen Springthorpe (Con) - 553 (43.2 per cent)

Annette Barton (Lab - incumbent) - 444 (34.7 per cent)

WIlliam Third (Lib Dem) - 283 (22.1 per cent)



ST HELENS (Turnout: 44.2 per cent)

Keith Bing (Con - incumbent) - 909 (52.2 per cent)

David Waller (Lab) - 475 (27.3 per cent)

Ann Terry (Lib Dem) - 357 (20.5 per cent)



TRESSELL (Turnout: 34.6 per cent)

Jay Kramer (Lab - incumbent) - 393 (20 per cent)

Peter Chowney (Lab) - 340 (17.3 per cent)

Jennifer Ayres (Lib Dem) - 308 (15.7 per cent)

Sally Phillips (Green) - 267 (13.6 per cent)

Terence Keen (Con) - 187 (9.5 per cent)

Matthew Lock (Con) - 187 (9.5 per cent)

Fay Hughes (BNP) - 155 (7.9 per cent)

Nicholas Prince (BNP) - 131 (6.7 per cent)



WEST ST LEONARDS (Turnout: 39.2 per cent)

Peter Finch (Con - incumbent) - 602 (43 per cent)

Michael Turner (Lab) - 478 (34.2 per cent)

Brett McLean (Lib Dem) - 319 (22.8 per cent)



WISHING TREE (Turnout: 35.5 per cent)

Alan Roberts (Lab) - 563 (46.3 per cent)

Gladys Fawthrop (Con) - 337 (27.7 per cent)

Andrea Bain (Lib Dem) - 317 (26 per cent)