Seven is the magic number for Havant Conservatives

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IT WAS a clean sweep for the Conservatives in Havant as the party’s standing candidates took all seven seats.

Four returning candidates were re-elected, while three Havant Borough Council councillors were elected to represent the county for the first time.

Councillor Jackie Branson stole the only seat held by another party, Ukip.

In 2013 Ray Finch was elected as one of the two Bedhampton and Leigh Park (now North East and North West Havant) county councillors, but he stepped down earlier this year.

Cllr Branson swooped in and stole that seat, meaning the Conservatives gained one, and retained six.

Cllr Branson said: ‘We’ve got a clean sweep now, I’m a school governor so education is definitely one of my focuses. I’m delighted with the number of votes I got (1,304) because it was never going to be a safe seat, the fact it was very decisive is really re-assuring.’

Each of the winning councillors got votes in their thousands, something no other party candidate achieved. The closest was Liberal Democrat Philippa Gray with a total of 949. Newcomer Lance Quantrill got the highest number of votes, 3,186, for Hayling Island.

Cllr Ray Bolton, who represents Emsworth and St Faith’s, and who received 3,299 votes, said: ‘I’m extremely pleased with the result, it’s a great privilege to be re-elected.’

Ukip were a strong force against the Tories in 2013, but this time only Hayling Island candidate Richard Coates got a stand-out number of votes (764).

Cllr Keast, who represents Cowplain and Hart Plain, said: ‘I’m absolutely elated. You dream of having the result we did tonight but you don’t dare to actually think it will happen. It’s interesting to note the vote for some of the other parties has totally collapsed, especially Ukip. I thank the people of Cowplain and Hart Plain for putting their trust in me for another four-year term.

And Havant Ukip group leader Cllr John Perry admits his disappointment at the results. He said: ‘It’s clear much of our Ukip vote has transferred to the Conservatives.

‘Ukip’s prime reason for existence was to achieve the UK’s exit from the EU, we feel that this will now be achieved and that with the Conservatives pushing ahead with a clean Brexit, our objective will be assured.

‘Talking to many residents, there is a feeling that Brexit will be with us soon, so I can understand why residents have voted Conservative instead of UKIP as they want Brexit and see it happening.’

Cllr Gary Hughes won his seat in Purbrook and Stakes South by a large margin, and added: ‘I’m delighted. People have put their faith in me and I’ve got a hard act to follow after Cllr Robin McIntosh served for 16 years.

‘Ukip lost my seat by 48 votes a few years ago, now they’ve lost it by 1,800 votes, so it’s been a bad night for them.

‘Havant voted leave in the EU referendum so the Lib Dems, who are very much a pro EU second referendum party, were always going to struggle in a location like this.