A SERVING city councillor has launched a bid to be elected – across the Solent on the Isle of Wight.
Steve Hastings is currently one of three Baffins ward councillors having been elected by residents as a Ukip candidate in 2014.
I was never going to stand for Baffins in 2018Cllr Steve Hastings
But now Cllr Hastings, who has since turned Tory, is to fight the Newport Central ward on the island, where he now lives.
He has been called a ‘phantom’ by a prominent ward campaigner who criticised the move.
Larry Nicholas, chairman of Baffins Forum, said: ‘I don’t think he’s in a position to be serving residents of Baffins.
‘As far as I’m concerned if he’s over there and not over here representing residents, he can’t be being paid and he can’t be named as a councillor.’
He added: ‘Phantom sums him up at the moment.’
Residents have been shocked by the announcement, made when the Isle of Wight Council revealed the list of candidates running in May.
Speaking to The News, Cllr Hastings has said he is ‘immersed’ in the election fight but was still attending, meetings and tending to residents’ issues in the ward.
He said: ‘Obviously at the moment I’m totally immersed in dealing with the campaign here (Isle of Wight).
‘There’s obviously a process if I’m successful that’s something that has to be dealt with.’
Pressed if he would quit the role at Portsmouth City Council if he won next month, he said: ‘That makes most sense.’
But he said he would inform the council leader, Donna Jones, if this was to happen. Cllr Hastings said he had been living on the island, in Old Westminster Lane, Newport, since August last year and in October told Cllr Jones he would stand.
He said his leaflets on the island mention he is a city councillor, and his commute has only gone up by 10 minutes as he takes the hovercraft.
Cllr Hastings, who will be contesting the seat of former Tory turned independent Julie Jones-Evans, added: ‘I was never going to stand for Baffins in 2018.
‘I’ve made it very clear to the Conservative group. They’re still looking for someone there.’
He said it was unfortunate that his term in the city did not end on the same date of the election.
Luke Stubbs, deputy leader of the council and the Tory group in Portsmouth, said: ‘If Steve wins we’ll obviously need to have a conversation about future arrangements but we’ll see about that after the election.’
If a councillor quits their seat less than six months before an election there is no by-election.
As his seat is due to be contested in May 2018, if Cllr Hastings were to stand down before November this year there would be a by-election, but not after that.