The local election is over, the votes have been counted and the results are in. The election results were nothing other than a resounding success for local Conservatives. It was a clear message from residents they are very dissatisfied with the Labour run council. With four extra Conservative councillors, the political balance has shifted.
I would like to thank the staff at Hastings Borough Council who worked tirelessly to ensure we could hold Covid-safe elections but most of all I would like to thank the residents for casting their votes and supporting us.
There were surprise results across the town but there were also some clear localised messages. Karl Beaney retained his ward in West St Leonards with a vastly increased majority. West St Leonards became a referendum on two very controversial planning issues; the old bathing pool site in West Marina and the recreation ground in Bulverhythe.
Labour simply isn’t listening to their residents. Drive along Bexhill Road and you will see dozens of banners and boards rejecting the plans to build on a designated floodplain. The Council has already spent over a million pounds on this application, which the Environment Agency has rejected.
A petition of 3000 signatures against building on the old bathing pool site was rejected for ‘technical’ reasons, stopping the Council from debating the issue. Save Our Bathing Site (SOBS) Facebook page has 2200 members. They are not just a few lone dissenters. These are problems that really matter to people. Andy Batsford, Labour cabinet member for housing, called these people “a few moaners”. Eventually people get to cast their ballots and ‘moan’ in a meaningful way.
People who saw the results on Friday and voted Conservative will probably wonder why they don’t have a Conservative run council today. The Conservatives won the popular vote but, because we only elect half the councillors every two years, the Labour group remain in control.
For the past two years the Conservative group put forward a motion to have all-out elections every four years. Rother District and County Council elections are every four years and most of the country elect their representatives every four years.
Going to a four yearly cycle would potentially save the Council tens of thousands of pounds of greatly needed money that could be better spent elsewhere. Labour reject this proposal every time.
Elections were held this year because last year’s were delayed due to Covid-19. This means the electorate in Hastings and St Leonards will get a chance to have their say again very soon. The Conservatives will double their efforts over the coming year to listen to the people of Hastings and St Leonards and give them a chance to vote for real change next year.