Tories romp home with perfect 10 in Havant

JOY George Smith celebrates winning the Bedhampton ward on Havant Borough Council.     Picture: Malcolm Wells (111647-3489)
JOY George Smith celebrates winning the Bedhampton ward on Havant Borough Council. Picture: Malcolm Wells (111647-3489)

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THE Tories romped to victory in Havant by winning every single seat in this year’s local election.

In one of their most decisive wins in recent years, the Tories further strengthened their overwhelming majority at Havant Borough Council and gave the Lib Dems a battering in the hotly-contested Bedhampton ward.

DISCUSSION Council leader Tony Briggs, left, with Paul Buckley, a Conservative from Waterloo Ward.  (111647-3432)

DISCUSSION Council leader Tony Briggs, left, with Paul Buckley, a Conservative from Waterloo Ward. (111647-3432)

Last night there were cheers as the blue vote held on to nine seats and knocked the Lib Dems out of Bedhampton.

They now hold 35 of the seats on the council, with the Lib Dems just two and Labour just one.

The Lib Dems lost out on their normal share of the vote in this year’s election, with many voters choosing to vote for Labour.

In Hayling West ward, the party came bottom, behind the Greens, UKIP and Labour.

Their candidate for Bedhampton, Tony Welch, who wanted to replace retiring Lib Dem Ann Buckley, was quietly hopeful he might do well at the beginning of the evening.

But half way through the count at Havant Leisure Centre, he was admitting he would have to settle for second place.

He said: ‘It’s the national thing. Our team have worked extremely hard, but the bottom line is every time we spoke to people it was “what about the coalition, what about universities?”

‘The difficulty was trying to bring people back to the local issues.

‘You cannot fight an irrational thought in people’s heads that for some reason the Lib Dems are to blame for what’s happening to the country.’

But he added he did not think the Tory dominance at the council would be good for democracy.

He said: ‘I think we have hit a watershed. If I was around in 10 years, I think Labour and Liberal Democrat will start to come back in.’

George Smith won the Bedhampton seat and becomes the youngest male councillor at 33 years old.

Cllr Smith, a former Havant Rugby Club player, said: ‘It’s fantastic news.

‘I am well aware that I won this because of the fantastic record of Havant Borough Council in the last few years.

‘I am looking forward to getting to work.

‘I am looking forward to learning from the experience in the council and bringing something a little bit different too.’

The Tories also maintained their hold on Hayling Island, winning both seats in last night’s count.

Andy Lenaghan, who had a huge majority of more than 1,800 votes, said: ‘It’s great. It’s nice that people have got the confidence.

‘I have worked hard for Hayling, resisting the large-scale developments people don’t want to see on Hayling.’

It was a similar story in Waterlooville, with the blues maintaining large majorities in Purbrook, Stakes, Hart Plain, Waterloo, and Cowplain, as well as in the Havant ward of St Faith’s.

Richard Galloway, a retired company director, becomes the newest councillor for Emsworth, replacing Virginia Wilson-Smith, who has retired.

He said: ‘Emsworth has a fairly large retired population and most retired people tend to vote Conservative by nature.’

Tory council leader Tony Briggs said: ‘We have done really well.

‘We have delivered quality services, not made cuts to services, and not increased the council tax whatsoever.

‘I think that people have realised they are getting a good deal.’

The turnout was disappointingly low, however, with just over 42 per cent of electorate going to the polling stations, compared to more than 61 per cent last May, although that did include a general election.

Ralph Cousins, Labour candidate for Bedhampton, said: ‘Many people feel disillusioned with politics.’

Those not disillusioned, however, were three women from the former Yugloslavia, who travelled to Havant to watch the count last night.

Valentina Aleksandrovic, 45, from Serbia, Tatjana Perovic, 36, from Montenegro, and Mirjana Korveziroska Dimoska, 52, from Macedonia, came under an exchange scheme with The Westminster Foundation.

Mrs Aleksandrovic said: ‘This is a new experience because our electoral system is very different. We have a proportional system. This is very well organised.’

David Willetts, Tory MP for Havant, joined the celebrations. He said: ‘This has been a good night for the Conservatives.’