The council’s former Lib Dem Group leader and deputy have spoken of their disappointment at sweeping Tory gains in Thursday’s Horsham District Council elections.
Both Frances Haigh and Malcolm Curnock lost their seats, in Horsham Park and Broadbridge Heath respectively, leaving the Tories with 39 out of 44 seats on the council.
The Conservatives gained seven seats leaving the Lib Dems with just four, with just one independent on the council.
Frances Haigh, former leader of the Lib Dem Group at HDC, said: “I am very disappointed not to have been re-elected to HDC. I congratulate our Lib Dem councillors who were elected. They are all excellent representatives for their communities and their success is well-deserved.
“It is important that government at any level has strong opposition to help ensure there are the checks and balances to ensure that decisions are made wisely and sensibly on behalf of the electorate.
“With only four councillors, it will be a tough job to do this.
“As the previous leader, I will be supporting the Lib Dem group as best I can to help them fulfil their role.
“I will be continuing to work in the community, including with Horsham Blueprint and Hack Horsham. It is early days yet, but I am also considering other options which would make use of the knowledge and experience I have gained in my time at HDC.”
Malcolm Curnock, former deputy leader of the Lib Dem Group at HDC, added: “This election has been a sad day for democracy and local government in Horsham district, with party political preference taking priority over those with a proven track record of serving their local community, in my case 28 years on Broadbridge Heath Parish Council.
“I am extremely disappointed that I am unable to continue seeking the best possible outcomes for the residents of Broadbridge Heath as their district councillor.
“But the wish of the majority was for a change and I wish my successor Mathew French well.
“Maybe as a Conservative he will be able to get the Conservative run HDC and West Sussex County Council to deliver the promised, but underfunded, infrastructure and community facilities to compensate for the 1,000 plus new houses they decided to put in Broadbridge Heath, e.g. doctors’ surgery, highway improvements, traffic calming, a new home ground for Broadbridge Heath Football Club with 500 sq/m sport pavilion and enhanced village centre building.
“Finally a big thank you to those who helped in my campaign and the many hundreds who voted for me. I will at least be able to continue working for them with my fellow Broadbridge Heath parish councillors.”
The Tories also made gains in the Denne ward, Roffey North and Steyning.
The four remaining Lib Dems on the council are Christine Costin (Trafalgar), Leonard Crosbie (Trafalgar), Godfrey Newman (Forest), and David Skipp (Horsham Park).
A new leader of the Lib Dem Group at HDC has yet to be announced.
What do you think of the election result? Comment below or email the newsdesk.