Elections update: Labour holds Crawley

The Labour team celebrates
The Labour team celebrates

Labour has retained control of Crawley Borough Council by the narrowest of margins.

A total of 12 seats were up for election with no votes being cast in Tilgate, Gossops Green or Three Bridges.

Labour has controlled the council since 2014 and went into Thursday with 19 seats compared to the Conservatives’ 17, with one vacancy.

The Tories needed to hold its four seats and take at least two from Labour with Ifield and Southgate appearing to be the likeliest candidates.

However Labour held Southgate by 14 votes and Ifield by nine.

Just 13 votes cast the other way would have delivered control of Crawley’s town hall to the Conservatives.

It was the first local election in Crawley since 1990 where no seats changed hands, according to Conservative councillor Richard Burrett.

Afterwards Peter Lamb, Labour leader of the council, said: “I’m very proud we are still in a position to deliver and improve local facilities and services.”

He said it was a relief they had not lost any seats but said Labour’s focus was not on the margin of victory but on its policies.

He did highlight the result in Furnace Green, where Labour candidate Dan Dobson finished just 34 votes behind the Conservatives’ Carol Eade.

He later tweeted: “Hugely grateful to the people of Northgate and Crawley for re-electing me as a councillor and Labour as an administration. We will continue working hard, building a better future for Crawley.”

Meanwhile Duncan Crow, leader of the Conservative group at the council, said: “Naturally it’s disappointing we did not win control of the council by the narrowest of margins.

“To not win by 23 votes across two wards, you can’t be any closer.

“But it’s a hollow victory for Labour with a significant swing to the Conservatives.

“We ran the leader of the council very close in Northgate which we have not won for 50 years.

“Crawley is swinging heavily to the Conservatives. At this election unfortunately it was not quite enough but the direction of travel is with us, and eight years into a Conservative Government that’s quite remarkable.”

Speaking at the podium Mr Burrett, who is also a county councillor, said: “I congratulate the Labour Party for their achievement but we are hot on their heels.”

Usually elections in Crawley are held three years out of every four, but a boundary review means every single ward will be up for election in 2019.

Raj Sharma, who was re-elected to represent Southgate 14 votes ahead of Tory candidate Karim Khassal, said: “We knew it was going to be tight but we worked very hard.

“It’s a fantastic result.”

Meanwhile Laura-Lee Willcock was elected in Ifield, polling just nine more votes than Conservative Josh Bounds.

She said: “It’s fantastic. Ifield has always been close and expected it would be close. Respect to the counters as with all the recounts their work doubled.”

She thanked the Labour members who worked on her campaign, adding: “I’m thankful to the people who elected me and I want to work really hard for them.”

Two other wards have new councillors, Conservative Andrew Belben in Pound Hill South and Worth, and Shahzad Malik in Langley Green.

Candidates from Legacy, a new political party formed by former UKIP members, failed to make an impact at the ballot box.

Back in April Legacy leader Janet Setford-Thompson, who finished in fifth place in Bewbush, explained that the new party still holds UKIP’s Brexit policy as one of its founding principles, but was looking to forge an identity of its own.

Other priorities are freedom of speech, animal welfare, chemicals polluting the environment, and plastic waste.

FULL RESULTS:

BEWBUSH

• Thomas Bidwell, Conservatives 452

• Michael Jones, Labour 891

• Arshad Khan, Justice Party 34

• Janet Setford-Thompson, Legacy 32

• Sarah Smith, Lib Dems 131

BROADFIELD NORTH

• Christopher Brown, Legacy 61

• Ian Irvine, Labour 822

• Irshad Jalaldeen, Conservatives 338

BROADFIELD SOUTH

• George Bird, Legacy 82

• Tim Lunnon, Labour 652

• Jonathan Purdy, Conservatives 478

FURNACE GREEN

• Dan Dobson, Labour 975

• Carol Eade, Conservatives 1,009

• Allan Griffiths, Legacy 15

• Harry Old, Lib Dems 98

IFIELD

• Josh Bounds, Conservatives 1,141

• John Lethbridge, Lib Dems 123

• Neil Setford-Thompson, Legacy 39

• Laura-Lee Willcock, Labour 1,150

LANGLEY GREEN

• Kevin Hall, Conservatives 586

• Shahzad Malik, Labour 1,124

• Marko Scepanovic, Lib Dems 141

MAIDENBOWER

• Nigel Boxall, Conservatives 1,349 votes

• Leonard Elphick, Legacy 48

• Morgan Flack, Labour 556

NORTHGATE

• Andrew Humphreys, Conservatives 576

• Peter Lamb, Labour and Co-operative 674

• Mike Sargent, Lib Dems 73

POUND HILL NORTH

• Richard Burrett, Conservatives 1,194

• Stuart Gunatillake, Labour 605

POUND HILL SOUTH AND WORTH

• Andrew Belben, Conservatives 1,376

• Colin Flack, Labour 911

SOUTHGATE

• Karim Khassal, Conservatives 1,111

• Kevin Osborne, Lib Dems 199

• Raj Sharma, Labour 1,125

WEST GREEN

• David Anderson, Lib Dems 99

• Ian Pendlington, Conservatives 547

• Karen Sudan, Labour 615