Newly elected councillors have responded to last week’s Rother District Council election results, which saw the Tories virtually wiped out in Bexhill.
Labour took three seats from the Conservatives, whil the Independents made huge gains.
The council also got its first Green councillor in more than 40 years.
Christine Bayliss, newly elected Labour councillor for Bexhill Central ward, said: “I think we have put forward a solid manifesto and promises to work extremely hard in the ward and that has paid off. But the hard work really now starts because there is lots to do around regeneration, housing and a whole range of issues.”
Paul Courtel, Labour councillor for Bexhill Central ward, said: “I would like to thank all of the voters in the ward for putting their trust in me and my excellent colleague Christine Bayliss. I confirm my support for a town council for Bexhill. I will also try to help people with housing problems who need a more compassionate approach from Rother District Council.”
Lynn Langlands, new elected Independent councillor for Bexhill Kewhurst ward, said: “We want to have a balanced, collaborative council and with these sort of results we will be able to make decisions that are fair and just for the people of Bexhill. It should not be about party politics. It should be about working together for the people of Bexhill.”
Polly Gray, who was elected as Green councillor for Bexhill Old Town & Worsham ward, said she was the second councillor from the party to be elected to Rother District Council in more than 40 years, as the previous one was John Luck in 1976 when the party was called the Ecology Party.
Polly added: “I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for me, as well as my team Nicky Bishop and Mark Todd.”
Jay Brewerton, newly elected Independent councillor for Bexhill Pebsham & St Michaels ward, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been elected and intend to work very hard for all the electorate, regardless of their political persuasion. Thank you to all of those who have helped and supported and mentored me in the last year.
“I have done charity work for 25 years and been with Rother Voluntary Action for a decade. I have seen the cuts to services, in particular to the vulnerable in our community and I could not just continue standing by without standing up to it.”
Terry Byrne, Independent councillor for Bexhill Sackville, was elected alongside fellow Independent colleague Hazel Timpe. Terry said: “The hard work now starts. Hazel and I are really looking forward to working for Sackville ward and for Bexhill in general.”
Sam Coleman, newly elected Labour councillor for Bexhill Sidley ward, said: “I am really excited to be elected because Sidley needs a compassionate Labour councillor, as the area has been under-invested and left to rot. Sidley needs a voice for the people.”
Kathy Harmer was re-elected as Independent councillor for Bexhill St Marks and fellow Independent colleague Sarah Jane Errington was newly elected for the ward. Speaking about the Tories losing seats in Bexhill, Kathy said: “It’s not before time. It’s all about people, not about politics. It’s about knowing your patch and community.
“I am just so proud of my residents for stepping up. Stuart Earl, who was a dear friend, would be very proud of us and we intend to continue his legacy.”
The Liberal Democrats also made big gains, increasing their seats on the council from three to seven, one of which was in Bexhill St Stephens ward, with Richard Thomas being elected.
He said: “After those nail-biting recounts, the end to ‘Line of Duty’ will be an anti-climax. Huge thanks to the people of St Stephens. My wife and I enjoyed meeting you in the campaign and my first task will be to make sure we stay in close contact. Great, too, to join so many other LibDems. There is a real sense of a new beginning.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Andrew Mier topped the poll in Southern Rother ward, and Howard Norton won a seat by just two votes in neighbouring Rye & Winchelsea ward.
Andrew said: “It is a privilege to have been elected as one of two councillors for the ward of Southern Rother, which covers the villages of Fairlight, Guestling, Icklesham and Pett. The result has exceeded my wildest hopes and expectations.
“During and after the campaign I have been touched and encouraged by the messages of support I have received from friends, acquaintances and total strangers.
“I will do my best to represent the interests of everyone in the ward by providing the effective voice for the villages that I have promised. This is a great responsibility and a very pleasant duty.”
Cllr Mier’s newly elected colleague Cllr Howard Norton said: “I am obviously delighted to have won my seat, and am very grateful to all the people who worked so hard to make it happen. The Liberal Democrats are back, and will be a strong voice for moderation and pragmatism on Rother District Council. Thank you to the voters for their confidence in me personally. It will be a privilege to serve all the people of the two Ancient Towns, and once I am back from a long-booked trip to Bulgaria, I will do my best to be a conscientious representative.
“The elections on Thursday were unusual because local issues were inevitably overshadowed by the national crisis. I am convinced the main reason for the strong showing of the Liberal Democrats was our principled resistance to Brexit.
“The national mood is shifting in a Remain direction. We won’t relax. We will now redouble our efforts to maximise the Remain vote in the European Parliamentary elections on May 23.”
The Conservatives managed to retain a lot of their seats in Rother’s rural wards. Mary Barnes, councillor for Hurst Green & Ticehurst ward, said: “I’m elated about being re-elected. It’s a new council and an unknown quantity and I’ll continue to do my best and serve my community.”
Fellow ward councillor Graham Browne said: “I’m very pleased to be re-elected because I was not very confident earlier due to what is going on nationally. It will certainly be a different council.”
Carl Maynard, Conservative councillor for Sedlescombe & Westfield ward, said: “Nationally for the two major parties, Brexit has been a significant feature, which is very unfortunate. Locally the Conservatives fought a vigorous campaign but there is a clear differential between the results in the rural areas and those in Bexhill. I would like to congratulate all candidates, regardless of political colour and I am sure we can work effectively together to make Rother an even better place to live, work and visit.”
More on the elections here: