Hastings voters say ‘no’ to AV

Hastings hit the polling stations to echo the national result
Hastings hit the polling stations to echo the national result

AN overwhelming two thirds of locals voted against a change in method used to decide elections - mirroring almost exactly the outcome nationally.

Here in Hastings 22,626 people went to the polls to vote in the AV referendum – a surprisingly high turn-out of around 36 per cent – albeit less than half the number who made the effort during last year’s General Election.

This despite the fact that, unlike elsewhere in the country, people were only being asked to decided between AV and First Past The Post not local council elections as well.

Of those votes cast, 15,277 (67 per cent) went in favour of keeping the current system, with the Yes to AV camp managing just 7,349 (32 per cent), with a small number of ballot papers spoiled.

And the result was music to the ears of the current MP, Amber Rudd, who would have been facing a much tougher fight to regain her seat if the nation had given the mooted change the go-ahead.

Speaking shortly after the result, Ms Rudd told the Observer: “The voters of Hastings gave the proposed AV system a resounding thumbs down.

“They voted two to one against this complicated, and untested system.

“I was particularly pleased with the turnout – it was much higher than most people anticipated - so well done the voters of Hastings for defying the pundits who told us turnout would be marginal in areas with no local elections.

“We showed them that we do mind, that we value our democracy and that we will be sticking to first-past-the-post.”

Fellow anti-AV activist Liam Atkins was equally buoyed by the result. He said: “Voters were asked the question ‘Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the alternative vote system?’ and thankfully Hastings clearly said ‘no’.” However, campaigners fighting for a change were left nursing a bloody nose.

Paul Hunt, chairman of Hastings Lib Dems said simply: “Obviously we are deeply disappointed that Britain will not be using a fairer voting system at the next General Election, but ‘no’ is the result and we must respect that.”