TORIES GAIN VITAL SEAT

TRIUMPHANT Tories emerged victorious from the local elections on Thursday night.

They claimed a former Labour seat in Furnace Green and ousted ex-Mayor Ray Calcott from the ward.

Council newcomer Brenda Blackwell will take up her seat in the Town Hall after polling 1,269 votes compared to Calcott's 895.

The atmosphere was highly charged at this year's elections as councillors waited with baited breath to see if they had retained their seats on the council or gained a new seat in their party.

Polling stations closed at 9pm on Thursday, May 2, when the count began at Crawley Leisure Centre.

It took approximately two hours for all the votes from polling stations and postal votes - tested in four wards for the first time - to be totted up and apart from Furnace Green there were few surprises in this year's poll.

This meant that the Labour party in town lost one of their seats to the main opposition, the Conservative party, which may cause a rift as a new councillor from the opposition will sitting on the council.

And on a night of double jubilation for the Conservatives, last year's failed General Election candidate Henry Smith clinched a seat.

Councillor Henry Smith, who won one of the two vacant Pound Hill North seats exclaimed: "We are delighted with the result as a whole in Crawley.

"We were delighted to win the Furnace Green award and delighted at winning the two vacancies in Pound Hill North.

"This means that the Conservative group on Crawley Borough Council will be significantly expanded and we intend to use the greater number of councillors as vigorous opposition.''

And Leader of the Council and Labour candidate, Chris Redmayne declared: "I have two reactions to the results, my first is that we are very, very encouraged regarding the postal votes and increased turnout.

"One Labour candidate was voted in with an increased majority and we have doubled the take up of people voting, so that is good for democracy.

"The disappointment was losing Ray in Furnace Green.

"He has been a fantastic councillor and chair of the licensing committee, and I really hope that the new member plays her full part, the way that Ray played his part.''

And Liberal Democrat candidate for Northgate, Linda Seekings exclaimed: "I feel very humbled by the people of Northgate that they want me to carry on the good work.

"I still think the postal vote is a little bit impersonal.

"It needs to be personal when you are asking them to put a cross against your name.''