East Sussex County Council elections - voters’ interests must come before party interests

There have already been several attempts on local and national radio phone-ins to dismiss the UKIP share of the vote in the county council elections as being “infinitesimal” and “irrelevent”, based on the level of turnpout.

It is true that UKIP may have little chance in 2015 of gaining many seats under the same first-past-the-post system for parliament that electors voted to maintain in the referendum two years ago.

Nevertheless, it is not impossible and nothing is more likely to accelerate that party’s popularity than its dismissal as a mere protest vote.

Maybe there’s a lot to protest about: it was interesting to see that UKIP broke through in Ouse Valley East where residents have yet to see any sign of regeneration after rejection of the one project Newhaven was hoping for - namely Arrowcroft’s proposal to transform the riverside boardwalk and railway quay.

I’m afraid Norman Baker’s couple of bus stops and a taxi rank, designated a new ‘transport interchange’, came too late to save Steve Saunders, good candidate though he was.

Meanwhile, fellow LibDem Caroline Lambert managed to scrape in with a majority of just 23 in the next-door constituency of Seaford Blatchington which is now sandwiched between two UKIP seats, with Seaford Sutton also going to the insurgents.

Over on the other side of the Ouse, the LibDems managed to hold Newhaven by 60 votes with the lowest winning vote share in the county. How will this UKIP/LibDem split affect Newhaven?

Will it, for instance, mean a rethink of the one-way system in order to ease the chronic rush hour congestion over the bridge and on the inner ring road? It could be within the two councillors’ grasp if they were willing to work together.

Likewise, a UKIP candidate talking to the Port Authorities about the reopening of West Beach, rather than a candidate associated with the town council’s campaign to reopen it as a village green, may ironically have some success if NPP’s appeal against the Supreme Court’s decision to give it that status is allowed to proceed.

News that the council could have settled for a 10-year lease to keep the beach open means that one can only hope their high risk strategy won’t give us another summer with the beach closed.

So to all candidates I say please put the interests of those whom you represent before the interests of your party. Here’s wishing you well.

Jeremy Harwood