Tories keep control

THE Liberal Democrats won four out of five Uckfield seats on Wealden District Council in the election last week. The remaining seat was won by a Conservative candidate.

And in a fight for three seats on the town council the Lib Dems triumphed again winning two of them. The third was won by the town's mayor for the past 18 months Barrie Murray who stood as an independent but has won his seat previously as a Lib Dem.

Uckfield Lib Dem chair Tony Parker, who was re-elected to the district council in the Ridgewood ward, said: 'This is a fantastic result for the Liberal Democrats, and for Uckfield, gaining an overall 53 per cent of the vote. I would like to thank all our supporters for their hard work and the voters of Uckfield for expressing overwhelming confidence in us.'

In north ward Labour candidates Len Ashby and Duncan Bennett were 'devastated' and 'gobsmacked' respectively having expected at least one of them to gain the first ever Labour seat on the district council.

'I can't believe, having put in so much work on the election about such important issues, that we lost by such a large margin,' said Mr Ashby. 'We were trounced.' Both men remain on the town council.

Winning the Wealden seats in north ward were Paul Sparks and Alan Whittaker, both joining the council for the first time. Mr Sparks, who lives in Roman Way, becomes a councillor at the same time as his wife Dorothy who has won an uncontested seat on the town council.

In New Town ward Ian Nottage topped the poll for seats on Wealden and the town council. Libby Calton (Lib Dem) was also elected to join the town council. And this was where mayor Barrie Murray retained his town council seat. Ian Smith (Lab) lost his town council seat and his bid for a seat on Wealden.

In Uckfield central ward the Wealden seat was won by Claire Dowling (Cons). She is wife of county councillor Chris Dowling.

Silvia Buck (Cons) has lost her seat on the council. She stood in Ridgewood ward. Meanwhile Mrs Buck's husband Norman retained his seat on Wealden council in the Buxted and Maresfield ward.

The Conservatives comfortably retained control of the two Heathfield seats on Wealden.

In the Heathfield East ward Jan Dunk triumphed in a straight fight with Liberal Democrat John Evans, while in the North and Central ward Dick Angel, Margaret Kirkpatrick and Niki Oakes were clear winners.

The Green Party received a boost to morale with its candidate Timothy Rogers trailing Liberal Democrat David Hall by only 15 votes.

The balance of power in Wealden remains little changed with the Conservatives holding 34 seats, Liberal Democrats 15 and Independents six.

The turnout was 35%, up from 33.5% at the last local election.