Fareham councillor loses vote to retain seat at county council elections

23/1/2015 (KB)  Cllr. Chris Wood  Picture: Sarah Standing (150015-4278c) PPP-150414-144544001
23/1/2015 (KB) Cllr. Chris Wood Picture: Sarah Standing (150015-4278c) PPP-150414-144544001
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A COUNCILLOR who defected to the Conservatives from Ukip is set to lose his county council seat.

Councillor Chris Wood, who previously led the Ukip groups on Hampshire County Council and Fareham Borough Council, has been dealt a blow after he lost in a vote to decide who would run for his seat at next year’s county council elections.

The shock came at a meeting of the Hill Head and Stubbington branch of the Conservative party this morning in which Cllr Wood was up against opponent Pal Hayre in an vote between members over who would represent the Tories in the election for the Fareham Crofton seat next May.

A total of 25 members voted at the meeting which was attended by Gosport’s MP, Caroline Dinenage.

The result means that Cllr Wood will not be able to run as a Conservative for the seat which he took with 2,691 votes back in May 2013.

Cllr Wood said: ‘I am incredibly surprised and very, very disappointed by what transpired this morning, my focus is on working hard for the residents of Stubbington and Hill Head and that’s exactly what I shall continue to do.’

The councillor refused to say whether he would consider running as an independent councillor for the seat.

He previously defected to the Tories in a surprise move last month claiming that Ukip had become ‘toxified’ over the last year and that the party had become ‘out of touch.’

Ms Hayre was the previous Conservative candidate for the seat in the last two county council elections.

The meeting of the branch was held by the Gosport Conservative Association, as the seat covers the area of Hill Head and Stubbington despite the seat being titled Fareham Crofton.

He will retain his Stubbington seat on Fareham Borough Council, which is next up for election in May 2018.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of the borough council who welcomed Cllr Wood to the Conservatives when he made the political switch, said: ‘I was surprised about the result but it is a matter for the Gosport Conservative Association to decide.’ Ms Dinenage added: ‘I think both candidates were very good. Pal has done very well for us before and Chris has got a good political career in front of him.’