Count begins in Fareham as voting ends for the borough council

Borough council chief executive Peter Grimwood opening the count in Fareham
Borough council chief executive Peter Grimwood opening the count in Fareham
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TENSION is mounting in Fareham as the first votes are being counted.

The boxes have been collected from the various polling stations around the borough and scores of workers are now sifting through the thousands of polling cards.

The count will take place until about 3am tomorrow when the results will be announced. There are 16 seats up for grabs - one councillor will be elected for each of the 15 wards with the exception of Fareham East where two seats are available, due to the recent resignation of the former Lib Dem leader and ward councillor Paul Whittle.

Mr Whittle had faced increasing pressure to step down after he missed several council meetings due to his work commitments in Saudi Arabia.

Fellow Lib Dem Katrina Trott will be hoping to hold on to her seat in that ward, although there is a strong chance that the Tories may take the seat with candidates Jackie Hudson and Tom Davies due to Mr Whittle’s departure.

The council has been Conservative controlled since 1999 and currently has 24 out of 31 seats.

The main opposition party the Lib Dems hold four seats, there are two independent councillors and one Ukip councillor.

Another seat that may turn blue is Portchester East, where current Lib Dem councillor and former mayor David Norris is stepping down.

Other interesting wards will be Stubbington, Fareham South and Fareham North West where Ukip have fielded candidates ­ which if they win may change the council’s opposition party.

Also, if just one other Ukip candidate is elected, it will mean the party will be recognised as they will join the current sole Ukip councillor Chris Wood.

Tory council leader Sean Woodward, who is not up for election this year, said he would be happy to hold on to the seats the party already has.

He said: ‘We really are at the top of our our game in Fareham, we have nearly 80 per cent Conservative.

‘We will be happy to hold on the seats that we are defending, there’s 16 up and 13 of those are Conservative.’

There is also a by­-election for Fareham Town on Hampshire County Council due to take place, after the former Tory councillor George Ringrow stepped down when he was found to have committed benefit fraud totalling £32,000 over five years.

The result of this by-­election will be announced along with the borough council results.

Votes for the Police and Crime Commissioner will also be counted tonight, with the results sent to the Police Area Returning Officer Mark Heath at Southampton City Council.

The results of this election, where incumbent independent Simon Hayes is hoping to be elected back into the role for the second time, will be announced at Southampton City Council tomorrow.