LibDems win by-election

THE former leader of Wealden District Council has failed in his bid to be re-elected to the council.

Lib Dem Andy Watkins beat Nigel Coltman (Conservative) by 495 votes to 465 in the Alfriston by-election yesterday (Thursday September 25).

There was a 48 per cent turnout of voters in the Alfriston Ward.

Cllr Coltman, a Hailsham Town Council member, said: 'Andy Watkins is a good councillor and he has served Wealden before.

'There are no hard feelings against Andy - he's a good bloke.

'I will keep up my energy working for Hailsham and reflecting on lessons learned.'

Andy Watkins, also a former Wealden councillor, was looking forward to working for residents in Alfriston Ward.

He believed residents were angry about Conservatives on the district council planning 'to dump thousands of new houses in local villages.'

He also thought Alfriston villagers were annoyed about the provision of recycling facilities.

He said: 'I will fight to stop the Conservatives wasting money on the district council and building a new town at Berwick.

'I will also be working to get full recycling facilities introduced to all local villages and for improved safety on rural roads.'

Norman Baker Lewes MP called the Conservatives 'arrogant' and 'over-confident.'

He said: 'People in this area do not see Cameron's Conservatives as the alternative to Gordon Brown and the Labour Party.

'They know a Lib Dem councillor will work hard for them and stand up for them on the big issues.'

The Alfriston seat was made available after former Conservative councillor Keith Whitehead retired.

Cllr Whitehead won the Alfriston seat in May 2007 with 707 votes.

At the time Lib Dem candidate Christine Page lost with 277 votes.