Tories tighten grip on Havant

Conservatives tightened their grip in what was an historic night for Havant Borough Council.

The political landscape became a brighter shade of blue as the Tories made two gains, one each from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and many councillors increased their majorities.

It was also a night of firsts as voters in Leigh Park's Battins ward made Lib Dem candidate Katie Ray the youngest-ever Havant councillor aged just 20.

The Chichester University student made it home with a majority of 96 and was so overwhelmed she could not give a speech.

Speaking afterwards she said: 'It's just incredible. I'm a Leigh Park girl, I grew up here, I love it here and I intend to serve the people as well as I can.

'It's been a very busy few weeks juggling university essays and canvassing but I think I've proved that I can handle both. I don't think my age will stand in my way, as I don't think age stands in the way of the older councillors.

'After getting a bit of sleep I'm going to be straight back out thanking all the people who voted for me. I'm delighted.'

Conservatives grabbed Bondfields from the Lib Dems with Frida Edwards becoming Havant's first ever black councillor.

The 50-year-old grandmother, who owns the Hayling ferry, was over the moon with the win.

She said: 'I can't believe it. I had no idea I was the first ever black councillor – I've actually made history!

'I have lived here a long time and I decided I wanted to put something back into the community. It is such a thrill to be elected.'

Labour's bloody nose meant goodbyes for two longstanding members. June Hanan stepped down from Battins and Richard Brown could only scrape second place in Warren Park – his constituency for the past eight years.

Known as a hard-working and popular councillor he was clearly emotional as he said his goodbyes.

The bus driver said: 'My wife is going to be incredibly happy, for the first time since our children were born we're going to have a life.

'But it is very emotional. I've worked very hard here, this is a sad day. The Conservatives targeted my seat because I'm the one who did all the talking in the council chamber.'

The man who has taken his place is Mark Johnson, a railway signal engineer and Royal Navy veteran.

The 50-year-old father-of-three said: 'I'm absolutely over the moon.'

Tory party leader Tony Briggs, who had earlier in the evening predicted the gains, said: 'It's a fantastic result. I believe that makes us the Conservatives in Hampshire with the biggest political majority.'

Councillor Briggs will find out the results of his Cowplain election today.