In an incredible night for small parties and Independent candidates across the country on May 2, the Conservatives in West Sussex lost control of two out of five councils, with a considerably reduced majority in the remaining three.
They also lost control of Rother, in East Sussex, in a third Sussex loss. In Brighton the Green Party picked up eight seats to increase their number to 19, just one short of Labour’s 20 seats. The Conservatives have 14 and there is one Independent.
- It was Arun where there was a real shock, with the loss of 21 Tory seats, mainly to the Liberal Democrats. It means the Conservatives do not have control for the first time since 1974 and leader Gillian Brown, who happens to be UK Chancellor Philip Hammond’s mother-in-law, lost her seat. The Lib Dems increased their seat number by 17, and now have 22 seats alongside eight Independents (gaining six) and two gained by the Green Party.
- Chichester was the next big story, where the Conservatives lost 13 seats to bring their total down to 18. The boundary has been amended here, and now just 36 seats are available – so the Tories have exactly half and therefore do not have overall control. The biggest winners were the Lib Dems, winning nine seats to bring their total to 11. Labour picked up two and the Green Party kept their two.
- Mid Sussex Conservatives held control but lost 20 seats, 13 of which went to the Lib Dems and three to the Green Party – who previously had no representation on the council. Four seats went to Independent candidates.
- In Horsham it was a Tory hold, but at the cost of 13 seats, 10 of which were scooped up by the Lib Dems, the others going to the Green Party (two) and one Independent.
- It was less dramatic in Worthing although six of the Tories’ former 27 seats were still lost – and unlike the rest of the country, Labour picked up five of them, doubling its number on the council to ten. Two years ago, Beccy Cooper became the first Labour councillor to be elected to Worthing District Council for more than 40 years. The Liberal Democrats managed to win the other defeated Tory seat, bringing their total on the council to three, along with the retention of two Independents and one UKIP councillor.