LIBERAL Democrats have bucked the national election trend of the party, becoming the overall majority on Littlehampton Town Council.
The results of Thursday’s (May 7) local election (see page 6 of today’s paper) has stunned the party.
Party leader Dr James Walsh, said: “It was quite a staggering result.
“But I think the Lib Dems were being rewarded for their commitment to the town of Littlehampton and in particular on three issues; the need to replace the hospital, to keep and improve the Windmill theatre and cinema and to reflect the population’s will by keeping the swimming pool where it is rather than moving it to a new site.”
One of the big shocks of the election was the defeat of two of the Tory’s heavy-hitters, the current town mayor, Jill Long and past mayor Emma Neno. Both were standing for seats in Beach Ward, which traditional had been divided by the Tories and Liberals.
However, the Lib Dems clinched all three seats in an unprecedented landslide win.
Lib Dem councillor Ian Buckland was stunned by the victory but regretted that Mrs Long had been defeated. Paying tribute to her, he said: “I can assure you that no-one wanted to dismount Jill from politics. There is no way that we wanted to see that happen.
“She is a very highly respected councillor and a lovely person. She has done so much to raise the town’s profile and it’s a shame to see her go.
“I would say that it was a shock that she was unfortunately dismounted.”
However, the town council does now have plenty of fresh blood, with a total of eight new councillors coming to the fore, supported by seven returning members.
One of the newest councillors is 19-year-old Lib Dem, Emily Tester, who is representing Wick Ward. She is the authority’s youngest-ever representative.
Mr Buckland added: “I think it’s a major step forward and it says a lot of the electorate that they put their trust in a young lady who is quite astute when it comes to politics. I think she’s going to make a great councillor and has a bright future ahead of her.”