ELECTION 2018: Havant is a hive of activity as retiring councillors step aside for a new generation
RESULTS are beginning to be announced in the battle to take control of Havant Borough Council.
A handful of seats have been revealed, with Tories retaining their grip on the area’s authority.
Eager candidates vying for a seat on the council have been waiting for hours for the results to filter through.
Currently, the authority has 37 sitting councillors. Fourteen of these 37 seats are being contested tonight, by 52 candidates, and there is one more vacant seat.
Eleven of these seats are currently Tory, with two Ukip, one Lib Dem, and one Labour.
The current council leader, Michael Cheshire, who also represents Hart Plain, is retiring. His Tory seat is up for grabs.
He said: ‘I would suspect the Tories will remain in power and that we will probably gain a couple of seats but who can tell.
‘The electorate will probably be testing central government as a result of our local elections and so I’m pretty sure that down south in Havant we will stay Tory.’
Speaking to The News, the retiring leader said he was bowing out on a high.
‘I’ve had a fantastic time as not only a councillor for 12 years but also a cabinet member for six years and leader of the council for four years, it’s been a great privilege to work for the residents and I hope I’ve done my bit the best I can,’ he said.
‘I look forward to seeing what the new leadership is going to do.’
Candidates are standing to represent the 14 following wards on Havant Borough Council: Barncroft, Battins, Bedhampton, Bondfields, Cowplain, Emsworth, Hart Plain, Hayling East, Hayling West, Purbrook, St Faith’s, Stakes, Warren Park and Waterloo.
Councillor Faith Ponsonby has held her Lib Dem seat for 12 years, but is not standing for election this year.
She said: ‘My seat has been held for 12 years but I have now decided to retire.
‘You can never be confident of anything but I would say it’s looking promising for us.
‘Jo Lowe is standing for the Battins ward and she has really found her authentic voice, which is right for the ward.’
Lorraine Brown is standing to represent the Stakes ward for the first time. The seat is currently held by Garry Kerrin of Ukip, who is retiring.
She said: ‘I’m feeling very confident this evening. I know that the Conservatives didn’t get all of their leaflets out whereas I delivered to every house.
‘We’ve had a very good campaign and we’ve had very positive feedback.
‘I’m fighting for the council to stop cuts to education, particularly in secondary schools, and also cuts to childcare. I would work to support those families who have lost that service.’
The average percentage turnout of votes for the last local election Havant Borough Council held, in 2016, was 29.88 per cent.
Prad Bains, 22, is a wannabe Tory councillor standing for Hart Plain. His mother, Narinder Bains, is also a Tory, and currently represents Cowplain – although her seat is not up for grabs this year.
Prad, who grew up in Havant and went to The Cowplain School, said he was inspired by his mother to become a councillor.
‘I’ve seen the good work my mum does in the area and I’ve always aspired to be a local councillor, so I hope I could make a different to local people,’ he said.
‘I’m trying to create my own path though.
‘I was born and raised in the area I want to represent and I want to bring politics to young people and make it more relatable to them.
Narinder added: ‘It’s nice to see young people taking an interest in politics. We don’t have many young candidates. Today Prad has spent so much time speaking to people, encouraging people of all ages to vote over social media.
‘It’s been a lovely, refreshing change.’
Results will be announced later.