Local elections 2019: Little change at Havant Borough Council as Conservatives score a clean sweep
CONSERVATIVES say their attention now turns to regeneration and building new homes after sweeping to power in all the seats up for grabs at this year’s local elections at Havant Borough Council.
The party’s leadership of Havant Borough Council went unchallenged in the early hours of todayas it held its 11 seats that went to the polls across 10 wards.
Among those victories were five new faces, including Husky Patel in Purbrook – where the sudden resignation of Adam Christie left a vacancy – Mark Inkster in Bedhampton, David Jenner in Hart Plain, Gwen Robinson in Waterloo and Julie Thain-Smith in Emsworth.
The authority’s leader Michael Wilson, who breathed a sigh of relief after winning in his new ward of Hayling East, said the success was testament to his party’s ongoing efforts.
‘It's excellent news to have a clean sweep across the board,’ he said.
‘I'm very pleased because I think it's a vindication of the work we've been doing locally – particularly the strategy for regeneration for Havant and Hayling Island.’
He added: ‘I've had one year as leader of Havant Borough Council and that's enabled me to put that strategy in place. Now I want to put that into practice.’
Despite early-evening concerns on Thursday that turnout could be as low as 25 per cent, it emerged the actual figure had risen slightly to 31.52 per cent, from 31.27 per cent in 2018.
And after the tragic death of Emsworth councillor Rivka Cresswell, it was Cllr Thain-Smith who stepped up to the plate in Emsworth at short notice, about six weeks ago.
Of the five new faces welcomed into the chamber the former Royal Navy captain and registered nurse earned the greatest majority – a lead of 554 votes.
‘All the time I’ve lived in Emsworth I supported Rivka and that's where I expected to be for this election – in a supporting role – I wasn't expecting to step into her position,’ she said.
‘I've been given a deep and thorough induction about the issues Emsworth people are concerned about and I've already been getting emails from people in the anticipation I could be elected.’
She added: ‘I'm very excited to take on this task. It's a different one than I'm used to and I want the best for Emsworth and Havant.'
In Hayling West, it was former Hayling East councillor Clare Satchwell who secured victory.
But the win meant disappointment for the ward’s former Ukip representative, John Perry, who went back on a 2018 decision to step down and stood again.
As the night began Mr Perry said he would be ‘very pleased’ if his party scooped three seats or more.
Though they eventually earned none, Ukip candidates garnered 5,310 votes across the borough. On 733 votes, he finished 540 votes behind Cllr Satchwell.
‘I would like to thank the Hayling residents for voting for me, your support is much appreciated,' he said.
'However, the party who wants to develop more housing without infrastructure has now been voted in and they have their mandate to fulfil their objectives.
'I regret that we have been unable to convince residents that our party could have helped prevent this building programme on our green fields.'
In contrast Liberal Democrats earned 4,790 votes, Labour candidates amassed 2,822 and Green Party hopefuls got 1,515.
Going against the national ‘apathy’
Despite some councillors initially fearful an ‘apathy’ to national politics could hamper overall turnout in Havant, Conservative bosses praised voters who took to the polls with local issues in mind to raise turnout compared to last year.
Cllr Tim Pike, who held his seat in St Faith’s, said: ‘I think lots of people are dissatisfied with the handling of national issues and have chosen to try and make that clear in the local elections.
‘I'm pleased many more people have voted on the local issues and have recognised what we're doing here.'
Cllr Wilson added: ‘I understand a lot of residents are concerned about national issues, particularly Brexit, but tonight's results have shown they're happy with the services we're providing here and the strategy we've put together for Havant.’
Havant Conservative MP Alan Mak ‘delighted’ with result
As ballot boxes began flowing into the Public Service Plaza, Havant’s Conservative MP Alan Mak arrived to greet candidates and listen to ward results.
He said: ‘I’m delighted the Conservatives won all 11 seats being contested in the Havant Borough tonight.
‘Residents backed our track record of low taxes and good local services, and we’re grateful for their continued support.’
He added: ‘Having campaigned across the Havant constituency for our local candidates, I’m delighted residents backed our track record of hard work on the ground.
‘I’ll continue working with our councillors to ensure our area remains a great place to live and work.’