Tories tighten control on redrawn borough

IN a night which saw a disappointing turnout by voters, the Conservatives regained power in Havant.

The party now has 23 seats on Havant Borough Council, nine more than the Liberal Democrats and Labour put together.

But although turnout was up on 2000, many disaffected residents still failed to vote, with turnout dropping to just 14.6 per cent in Warren Park, even less than last year's 15.8 per cent.

The Tory victory was reliant on boundary changes, which saw Labour lose four seats before the election even started, small gains from the Liberal Democrats and the failure of three Independent councillors to stand again.

Conservative leader Councillor David Gillett said: 'Nine more than the others together, I can do something with that.

'I am really chuffed with the result. It gives us a tremendous opportunity now for next year and beyond.

'Better services, better value for money, better Havant.'

Councillor Terry Hart, leader of the Labour group, which dropped from 11 councillors to nine, said he was disappointed by the turnout and at not performing better in Stakes, where a seat vacated by an Independent went to the Tories.

He said: 'It will be difficult for the Tories with so many new councillors, it is difficult to get used to the new council system.'

It would be a shame if the council, which has been harmonious for the past four years, turned to confrontational politics, he said.

The Liberal Democrats were also disappointed with their performance which leaves them with just six councillors out of a total of 38, compared to the eight they had previously.

But Councillor Ron Bellinger said: 'I certainly don't think that people voted Conservative because they have run the council well, because they haven't been running the council.'

Many councillors from all parties, old and new alike, highlighted the need for more facilities for young people in the borough.

Councillor June Hanan, a Labour councillor who was delighted to hang on to her Battins seat, said: 'We need somewhere for young people in Battins, that is what I will be concentrating on.'