Conservative clean sweep leaves Worthing opposition fragile

Election count 2015 West Worthing and Adur and East Worthing. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150805-103852008
Election count 2015 West Worthing and Adur and East Worthing. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150805-103852008

A CONSERVATIVE clean sweep at the Worthing Borough Council elections on Friday leaves the party’s main opposition virtually wiped out.

The Liberal Democrats lost two seats to the Tories, reducing their party to just four councillors.

And with Durrington councillor Michael Donin set to become mayor in 11 days time, he will be reduced to an apolitical stance, leaving just three to oppose 30 councillors on the other side.

Ousted Liberal Democrat councillor Hazel Thorpe, who represented Tarring for 15 years, said it was concerning.

“The controlling group will have a free hand because they will be able to outvote others but hopefully the opposition parties will have the sense to work together,” she said.

“It’s down to the individual councillor to make that difference. It’s in the Liberal Democrat DNA to work hard.”

Council leader Dan Humphreys said the council chamber reflected what the people of Worthing wanted but felt there was an issue with a lack of effective opposition.

He said: “For me it’s not about the number of seats but it is that they seem to be so out of touch with the public. The seats will follow if they wisen up a bit.”

Mr Humphreys pointed to the recent council tax support scheme argument, in which a £5 per week charge was introduced for all households which previously contributed nothing due to low incomes.

The Lib Dems opposed the charge, which was introduced following a consultation where more than 80 per cent of respondents were in favour of it.

The party said it was supporting vulnerable residents who would not be able to afford the charge, while Conservative-controlled Adur District Council opted against the stance taken by Worthing councillors.

The strong Tory showing, meanwhile, carried into Sussex’s local elections.

In Mid Sussex the Conservatives turned the entire district council blue, taking all 54 seats, they took overall control of Lewes District Council and in Wealden the Lib Dems lost their three remaining seats.

It was a similar story for Horsham, Rother, and Chichester district councils where the Conservatives took several seats from the Lib Dems.

The Labour Party managed to hold on to its majority at Crawley Borough Council by the slimmest of margins from the Tories.

For the Lib Dems the only bright spots were in Eastbourne where they kept control of the borough council, and Littlehampton Town Council where they gained seven seats.

Lastly the Tories kept their commanding majority on Arun District Council.

See how the local election unfolded by { |clicking here.}