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Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 04:59 GMT 05:59 UK
Tories win Crawley after 30 years
The Conservative and Labour candidates in Crawley draw lots
Tory candidate for Broadfield North, Adam Brown, draws the winning lot
The Conservative party has seized control of Crawley, in West Sussex, for the first time in more than 30 years.

The party has a majority of one after both the Tory and Labour candidates finished with 500 votes each, and lots had to be drawn after three recounts.

The Tories also won Hastings, in East Sussex, for the first time since 1979.

In Surrey, of six district councils up for election, the Conservatives gained Mole Valley from no overall control. There was no change in the other areas.

Labour had controlled Crawley since 1971, but nearly lost it two years ago when it hung on by a majority of one after winning a seat by just three votes.

We've lost this council, but we'll be back
Chris Redmayne, Former Labour leader of Crawley council

Bob Lanzer, the new leader of Crawley Borough Council, said the outcome this year was "truly historic" and it had been won on a "proper vision of political leadership".

Issues such as the health crisis dominated the campaign.

Mr Lanzer said residents had also voiced their displeasure over council tax, which had risen by 98% since 1997, and the council's proposal to create two travellers' sites.

The council's former Labour leader, Chris Redmayne, said his party had worked very hard in Crawley on local matters and had tried to campaign on what it thought was important.

'Good fight'

"We've stuck with local issues and local matters. We've lost this council, but we'll be back," he said.

One candidate who failed to get elected in Crawley was Big Brother 6 runner-up Eugene Sully, who was the Labour candidate for Furnace Green.

The 29-year-old broadcast engineer said he thought he had put up a "good fight".

"I felt there were things that I could offer the local council... but I think I'm going to have to concentrate my efforts next year to try and run again," he said.

Hastings count
The Tories were not represented in Hastings eight years ago

In Hastings, where the Tories gained four seats to take control with 17, former Labour leader Jeremy Birch said although disappointed at the result, his party would be a "vigorous and determined opposition".

"I have got every confidence that in two years' time Labour will return to a majority position on Hastings Borough Council," he said.

Mr Birch added that he felt it had been a local election fought primarily on national issues and "we've suffered as a result".

Peter Pragnell, the new Conservative leader of the council, said the result had been exciting given that eight years ago the party had no councillors out of 32 elected in total.

"We've gone from the real doldrums... to this," he said.

Elsewhere in Sussex, the Tories held on to Eastbourne, Adur and Worthing - even though they lost three seats there to the Liberal Democrats.

In Surrey, Mole Valley turned blue for the first time since its creation, while there was no change in Tandridge, Elmbridge, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede and Woking.


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