Labour made big gains in Worthing's elections
I'm sure Ian Hart had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he suggested a '˜Worthing Party' to beat the Tories in his column in last week's Worthing Herald.
He’s well aware that a bit more than egos would have to be put on the side before such a cross-party alliance was created.
But in raising the issue, he makes some important points that were not brought out in the Herald report on the election results.
Tory leader, Daniel Humphries, claimed there was a “massive vote of confidence in the Conservatives.” His party got just 39 per cent of the vote across Worthing. With a turnout of 32 per cent, that means just 12 per ecnt or one in eight of all voters supported the Tories. A “massive vote of confidence”? I think not.
What the Herald report did not pick up on was the huge upsurge in support for Labour in Worthing. Just two years ago we got 12 per cent of the vote in the council elections and no second places in any wards. This year we got 20 per ecnt, and were second in six wards and a very close second in three of them. In Heene Ward we increased our vote from 11 per cent to 33 per cent – an extraordinary result by any standards.
Labour is now firmly positioned as the party providing the biggest challenge to the Tories, and with three Labour/Conservative marginal wards likely to change hands next time round, the establishment of Labour as the main opposition party on the council is going to come very soon.
With almost 500 members across Worthing – far more than any other political party – Labour has become that ‘Worthing Party’ Ian Hart is advocating.
While the Tory councillors are drawn primarily from the small business community in the town – and their policy priorities reflect that – Labour members come from all parts of the community and we have a much broader vision for the town.
It’s a vision that aims to combat the under-achievement and lack of ambition that has characterised the last decade of this Tory administration. Where the Tory headline commitment this year has been to vote for £50 fines for beggars and rough-sleepers, Labour would make providing a decent, affordable home for all at the top of our agenda.
While the Tories sit on their hands while developers leave sites derelict or bring forward greedy plans designed to maximise their profits, Labour would say, we call the tune not the developers. Sites like Teville Gate must be developed now for the benefit of Worthing and in ways that meet the needs of the town.
The Tory administration has failed to recognise that Worthing is changing fast. New people are moving into the town with greater expectations and much bigger ambitions for the town they have chosen to live in. Labour is the party they know reflects their views and their hopes.
Chair, Worthing West CLP
Harrow Road, Worthing
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