Lib Dems are ‘over the moon’ with three new councillors in Gosport

Lib Dem gains in Gosport - Dawn Kelly (left, Christchurch), Richard Philip Earle (Elson) and Angela Prickett (Forton)
Picture: Steve Reid Blitz Photography
Lib Dem gains in Gosport - Dawn Kelly (left, Christchurch), Richard Philip Earle (Elson) and Angela Prickett (Forton) Picture: Steve Reid Blitz Photography
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THREE Liberal Democrat gains saw the party grow in Gosport.

Now the party has nine councillors, after plucking two wards from the Conservatives and one from Labour.

New councillors Dawn Kelly, Richard Earle and Angela Prickett were victorious as the Tory majority shrank.

Lib Dem leader Peter Chegwyn said: ‘I’m over the moon.

‘It’s a fantastic night for us.’

But the biggest casualty was former mayor, Tory Richard Dickson, who lost Christchurch ward to Cllr Kelly.

Mr Dickson, an ex-Royal Navy Warrant Officer Writer, was first elected to the council in 2004.

He said: ‘It’s a disappointment but at the end of the day I have got another life outside being a councillor. I’ve been the mayor of Gosport, it’s something I will look back on with great pride.’

Cllr Kelly added: ‘It’s not really sunk in yet. It’s been a long hard time, it’s the third time I’ve stood.’

Richard Earle snatched Elson from youngster Craig Hazel, a Conservative.

Cllr Earle, 59, a painter and decorator, said: ‘It’s my birthday today – it’s absolutely brilliant. I’ve had a great time with the Lib Dems, campaigning with them as friends.’

Mr Hazel, who was elected to the council in 2012, said he had been targeted for working. He said: ‘It’s a shame I was attacked because I’m a working man but that’s how politics goes.’

Cllr Prickett took Labour ward Forton.

Meanwhile, Labour candidate Peter Batty announced in his losing speech he was defecting to the Tories.

The 67-year-old had fought to win Bridgemary South for Labour.

But in admitting defeat to Kathleen Jones, a new Tory face on the council, he quit. It comes after his wife Cllr Linda Batty made the same switch after not being allowed to nominate a Tory candidate to be mayor.

Mr Batty said: ‘The way I’ve been treated this evening, no-one from my ex-party has spoken to me and the way my wife has been treated – it’s appalling.’

Despite the losses, fresh Conservatives joined the council including Zoe Huggins, who retained Privett for the party. The 39-year-old education manager at Groundwork South takes over from Keith Gill, who stepped down.

She said: ‘I’m really excited to win, I think there’s quite a few challenges and unknowns.’

Tory leader Mark Hook, who retained his seat, said: ‘The results were satisfactory and it means that we can continue the work we started.’