Lewes District Council election day a dream for the Greens
The Green Party tripled their number of seats on Lewes District Council but the local authority remains with no overall control following last week’s election.
Heading into the election with 20 Conservatives, nine Lib Dems, three Greens and nine independents, the final results saw a significant change in the make up of the council.
Once the votes were counted it left the council with 19 Conservatives, nine Greens, eight Lib Dems, three Labour and just two independents.
The Green Party made the greatest gains – taking on six new seats to become the council’s second largest party.
Speaking after his group returned all three Ouse Valley and Ringmer seats, Green Party councillor Johnny Denis said: “I think it is a really brilliant reward for a lot of hard work.
“People have seen that all three candidates have worked really, really hard to convince people that they do the job, speak to people on the doorstep and find out what really matters to them.
“We are thrilled that our hard work has been recognised and we just hope to be better able to represent the people of Ouse Valley and Ringmer.
“It is really going to change the shape of the council because we are going to be a much bigger influence.
“We’ve gone from three voices to nine so we hopefully we will be able to have a stronger influence on the council to represent more broadly the views of the whole district.”
The Green Party saw particular success within Lewes town, with all bar one of the seats going their way.
The final seat – within Lewes Priory ward – went to long-standing independent councillor Ruth O’Keeffe who received a massive 2,041 votes.
It was a far more mixed picture for the Conservative group, however, which saw both significant gains and bruising losses as the results came in.
The group’s most noticeable loss came in East Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs, where it lost two seats – including that of council leader Andy Smith – to Labour.
Speaking as the results came in, the former council leader said he was ‘sanguine’ about the result and offered some advice for his successor.
He said: “I think the reason why this council has bucked the trend is because it has been working collaboratively across all parties.
“It has set aside a large amount of capital funding for projects which we will deal with over the next four years. It will all be good news for the district and the people who live in it.
“My only hope is that they can get back round the table, start working together and deliver the stuff that is in that Conservative manifesto.”
Labour took a third seat from the Conservatives in Peacehaven East marking the first time the political group has sat on Lewes District Council for more than a decade.
Chris Collier, who took the seat, said: “I’m very, very pleased. Over the last year or so we have seen a move towards Labour in Peacehaven and Telscombe and East Saltdean.
“We have had a number of [parish] by-elections we had won and we had hoped we could move things forward. I’m very pleased we could take a district council seat.”
The Conservatives fared better elsewhere however taking several key Independent seats in Peacehaven and a Liberal Democrat seat in Seaford North.
The Liberal Democrats meanwhile finished a seat down, losing several seats to the Greens in Ringmer and Lewes but held steady in other areas.
The Lib Dems saw their greatest success in Newhaven South, securing all three members.
Simon Burall, convenor of Lewes Lib Dems, said: “Over recent months, we have fought and won convincing campaigns in towns and villages up and down the district and we appreciate the wide backing for our policies from voters in every part of Lewes district.”