The May 6 elections once again resulted in a Labour council, despite some setbacks. The national swing – on the back of a ‘vaccine bounce’ for the Conservatives – clearly made it less about local issues than usual.

This was a significant factor in the wards where hard-working Labour councillors lost their seats. So we were sorry to lose Antonia Berelson, Margi O’Callaghan, and Warren Davies. We can’t thank them enough for their support and commitment to the residents of their wards and to our town. 

But we welcome the election of three new young women councillors, Sabina Arthur, Claire Carr and Ali Roark.

Labour now has 19 seats on the council to the Conservatives 12 and the Greens 1.

Here are the results, putting the contest in each ward into context.

Labour won in Braybrooke, where Sabina Arthur achieved 739 votes, comfortably ahead of the Conservatives on 499.

Claire Carr clinched the Castle seat for Labour with 733 votes. The Greens (418) pushed the Conservatives (372) into third place.

In Tressell, it was more of a straight fight with the Conservatives, with Labour’s Ali Roark the victor with 455 votes to the Tories’ 317 and Greens’ 196.

It was a close-run thing in Baird, where Labour’s Warren Davies was beaten by only a small margin: 503 votes to the Conservatives 575.

In Silverhill, Labour’s Margi O’Callaghan lost by a similar vote margin of 612 votes to the Conservatives’ 682. There was an increased Green vote (201).

In Ore, the Conservatives took the seat by 573 votes to 471 for Labour’s Anime Abdallah, due partly to a higher Green vote (205).

The Greens focused their main effort in Old Hastings, after a narrow defeat to Labour in 2018. This focus (and with no seats to defend) paid off. They took the ward by 1,032 votes to Labour’s 500, despite a hard-fought campaign by Labour’s Anna Sabin.

In St Helens, another close contest in 2018, saw the biggest ‘vaccine bounce’ with voters rewarding the Conservatives with 889 votes to Labour’s 600 – despite the fact that our candidate, Antonia Berelson, was one of the nurses residents had clapped for. Overall, not one of our key worker candidates was elected. And they had been so desperate to use their experience to help shape a post- Covid Hastings.

In Gensing, where Labour had performed strongly in 2018, the party’s vote held up with 740 votes for Heather Bishop. The Greens (408) beat the Conservatives (367) into third place.

In Central St Leonards, Labour’s Trevor Webb was comfortably ahead on 704 votes. The Greens (406) once again pushed the Conservatives (392) into third place.

In Hollington, it was back to a straight fight between the two main parties, with Labour’s Maya Evans beating the Conservatives 560 votes to 381.

In another strong Labour ward,  Wishing Tree, Alan Roberts held back the Tory tide to win by 608 votes to the Conservatives’ 540.

Despite a spirited campaign in West St Leonards by John Cannan, the Conservatives capitalised on specious arguments about flooding, while backing anti-homes movements. Their candidate, who won by just 56 votes in 2018, increased his share to 661 votes to Labour’s 279. The Greens got 119 votes; the Lib Dems 107.

The Tory vote held up in their traditional strongholds such as Maze Hill where their vote was slightly up, at 781 to Labour’s 422. The Greens came in third on 232. In Conquest the Tories polled 851 to Labour’s 322; and in Ashdown 792 to Labour’s 282.

Looking forward to May 2022

Next year offers a fresh chance for Labour to make its case to the electorate. The two-year election cycle means councillors who were elected in 2018 and not up for election this time, will face voters in May 2022.
Hopefully, we won’t have the exceptional national circumstances we had this year.
With a return to a new normal, the focus can be more on Labour’s manifesto, the candidates themselves and what they have to offer our town.