Tories surge back in Island polls

By Richard Wright

Friday, June 5, 2009

 

Tories surge back in Island polls

Tories George Brown (left) and David Pugh celebrate a good night for their party. Picture by Peter Boam.

THE Isle of Wight Council will once again be ruled by the Conservatives after they won 24 of the 40 seats up for grabs in Thursday’s local election.

Of the remaining 16 seats Labour took one, LibDems won five and independents have ten.

Some big names lost their seats.

However, the biggest, Tory council leader David Pugh, was returned with a huge majority.

He was elected in Shanklin South with 804 votes. Lyn Fleming was in second place with 161 and former Tory Anne Bishop third with 156.

In Cowes, the councillor at the centre of education reform, Alan Wells, was beaten by independent Paul Fuller.

Education reform was central to a result in Ventnor.

There, Standards Not Tiers campaigner Chris Welsford toppled sitting Tory Jonny Fitzgerald-Bond by 141 votes.

Ex-parliamentary Labour candidate Deborah Gardiner lost her Lake seat to Tory Jerry White and prominent independent Barbara Foster lost out to Tory John Hobart.

In Newport South, former IslandFirst leader of the council Shirley Smart failed in her bid to regain a seat on the council after being beaten into second place by Conservative Roger Dixey, who polled 395 against Mrs Smart’s 315 votes.

Safer communities portfolio holder Tory Diana Tuson was beaten by LibDem Reg Barry, who makes a return to the council after four years.

The Nettlestone and Seaview councillor had been at the heart of the IslandFirst coalition toppled by the Tory tide.

Tory Ivan Bulwer got back in Binstead and Fishbourne. He beat independent Ivor Warlow by just four votes.

In Ryde, former council chairman Conservative Arthur Taylor beat off a challenge from Lib Dem Tim Wakeley.

And in Ryde South, long-standing independent councillor Charles Chapman was beaten by 12 votes by Lib Dem Adrian Whittaker.

Adult service portfolio holder Dawn Cousins beat Peter Whiteman (LibDem) by 166 votes.

In Ryde North-East, town mayor, independent businessman Wayne Whittle won by 46 votes, beating Tory Adrian Axford. Sitting councillor LibDem shopkeeper Henry Adams finished third.

Heather Humby had a big majority in Sandown, which she has represented for many years.

Tory leader Cllr David Pugh said: "There have been some unexpected losses and some unexpected gains. A mixed bag but the majority overall is very pleasing."

Speaking about the loss of education guru Alan Wells, he said: "In many ways we have been working on education as a team. It is very sad to see him go. He is a good friend of mine but we will be pressing ahead with the schools reorganisations."

He said they had been quietly confident of securing a majority. "But you never quite know. Democracy acts in strange ways."

Labour's sole surving councillor, Geoff Lumley, called the loss of his colleague and former group leader Deborah Gardiner in Lake a tragedy.

"She has been an excellent councillor for 11 years in a marginal ward.

"I was not particularly suprised, given the national picture at the moment, and I think that has affected things locally. If you stick a political label on yourself at the moment, particularly this one, it does not always help you."

He said he would continue to work hard as an opposition councillor, looking for alliances among the other opposition parties.

Jill Wareham, defeated Central Wight LibDem candidate, said: "We are disappointed in not getting more seats. I am not surprised at the outcome. I think that possibly the national scene had something to do with it. David Cameron is taking the moral high ground with MPs’ expenses and that is why the Tories have done so well."

Click here to see the election results table

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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