Tories’ lead reduced in Gosport

Peter Chegwyn watching the election count at Gosport Leisure Centre ''''Picture: Steve Reid
Peter Chegwyn watching the election count at Gosport Leisure Centre ''''Picture: Steve Reid
Defence secretary John Nott with the captain of HMS Hermes, Capt Lyn Middleton pictured at the top of the Harrier jet ski-ramp at the bow of the aircraft carrier during the minister's visit to Portsmouth Naval Base

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OPPOSITION parties gained seats as they chipped away at Gosport’s Conservative-controlled borough council.

Lib Dem Austin Hicks won in the most hotly-contested ward of Brockhurst, seizing it from the Tories with 415 votes.

The 61-year-old was ousted from Anglesey ward in 2010 but is glad to be back on the council.

He said: ‘It’s a challenge – I have missed the council.

‘It’s a place to be if you want to make some changes.’

Former librarian Linda Batty won the only Labour gain of the night in Bridgemary South with a huge majority of 240.

The 46-year-old, of Braemar Road, took the seat from Tory Christopher Carter.

She said: ‘I’m very glad to have won a seat and it’s a step in the right direction.

‘I’ve worked in Bridgemary Library for 23 years – I’m hoping to help all my voters with all their problems and get more done in Bridgemary.’

Labour leader Cllr Dennis Wright added: ‘It obviously gives us a step in the right direction.

‘We will have a bit more influence with boards and committees.

‘We would have liked to have won more.’

Sue Ballard retained Elson, shoring up the Lib Dems opposition group.

Lib Dem Clive Foster-Reed retained his seat in Forton, winning 334 votes.

He said: ‘It’s another four years of hard work.

‘I get to carry on doing exactly what I enjoy doing – I’m back helping people.

‘I want to get the free community skips back.

‘They were really well used.’

Ukip’s Andrew Rice came second in the ward, winning 251 votes – 43 more than his Conservative opponent Philip Raffaelli.

Mr Rice, of Behrendt Close, Gosport said: ‘I hadn’t been well but I like beating the Conservatives.’

Conservative councillor Tony Jessop clung on to his seat in Grange to rapturous applause from his party.

He won 359 votes to Lib Dem challenger Ed Goncalves’ 280 votes.

Former council leader Dave Smith, standing for Labour, in the ward, won just 106.

Cllr Jessop said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that residents in Grange have decided to return me as their councillor.

‘I will be back on the job – after all Grange is the place that people want to live.’

Mr Goncalves, 46, added: ‘I’ve been really taken by the tremendous support from people in Grange.

‘It’s clear people want to see change in Grange.

‘The Conservatives could well lose control of the council next time.’

In Lee East Piers Bateman kept the Tories in power, with 997 votes.

Cllr Peter Chegwyn is the leader of the Lib Dems.

He said: ‘I’m knackered but I’m very pleased.

‘It’s our night with the Tories’ losses and Lib Dem gain – it’s far better than we are nationally.’

The lowest turnout of the night was in Grange Ward, at 21.27 per cent with just 761 people voting. Average turnout across the borough was 33.07 per cent.

Around 7,000 postal votes were sent out this year, an increase from 5,800 in the last borough council elections held in 2012.

To see the latest results click here.