13 May 2021
Local Greens are celebrating a historic breakthrough in Thursday's council elections, after record results in Lewes, Ringmer and a photo finish in Chailey saw the first-ever Green County Councillors elected in East Sussex.
And on a worrying day for Lewes Conservatives, Zoe Nicholson narrowly missed out on another win for the Greens in the Chailey county division, coming second by only 47 votes.
Zoe, who serves as Deputy Leader of Lewes District Council, said:
'I'm hugely grateful to everyone in and around the villages of Chailey division who voted for me.
'People in our rural areas feel ignored by politicians. That's what I kept hearing in so many conversations on the doorstep: they feel ignored and taken for granted by the Conservatives who've represented them, largely unchallenged, for decades now.
'It was desperately close because we showed that we're the only credible alternative to the Conservatives. Not a wasted vote, not a single-issue party, but a credible choice for people who feel let down by same old parties and want someone to listen and work hard on their behalf for a change.
'This county seat of Chailey has been held by the Conservatives since its creation in 1985. By any measure it would have been considered a safe blue seat - Greens only won 200 votes here in 2017.
'But our campaign this time has shown that when Greens play to win, there are no safe Conservative seats in Lewes anymore.'
In Ringmer & Lewes Bridge county division, where the Liberal Democrats were defending a seat they had held for many years, Ringmer district councillor Johnny Denis secured a thumping victory with 50.5% of all votes cast, after missing out on winning the same seat in 2017 by just 107 votes.
Johnny Denis, newly-elected County Councillor for Ringmer & Lewes Bridge, said:
'This an astonishing vote for a new way of working at the County Council.
I am so grateful for those people who had the confidence to lend me their vote.
'People have been telling me how disillusioned they are with a council that lets everybody down, and fails to understand or respond to the climate crisis. And they have cut local services to the bone.
'We need Greens on the Council to talk sense and get people working together for a better East Sussex.'
Meanwhile in the Lewes division, where the race was thrown wide open by the stepping-down of longstanding and popular Independent councillor Ruth O'Keeffe, Greens chalked up another win as Wendy Maples was elected with 2030 votes, a vote share of 43%.
Wendy Maples, newly-elected County Councillor for Lewes, said:
'I'm enormously grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve had, including from people who say they’ve never voted Green before! Thank you.
’Every day I talk with people in Lewes who say they're worried about how we're looking after our town, the planet and our futures. There are lots of truly amazing initiatives in Lewes, but lack of support for what really matters from County Council. We start today, getting recognition that we are facing a climate crisis. We start today, doing politics differently. We start today for a Greener, brighter future.'
Elsewhere East Sussex, Greens were toasting wins in Forest Row and Groombridge, where Georgia Taylor soundly defeated her Conservative opponent in a two-horse race, and in Old Hastings and Tressell, where Julia Hilton took a seat from Labour.