Long-standing district councillors lose out
Forest Heath councillors who lost their seats in the elections have spoken positively of their futures, both in and outside local politics.
Stalwarts Eddie Stewart, a Brandon councillor for 12 years, and David Gathercole, Lakenheath Parish Council chairman, lost out during the district council elections on May 7.
Tim Huggan, the council’s only Liberal Democrat, was also a casualty of the district’s right-wing surge.
Mr Huggan, who won his Manor ward seat during a by-election in 2007, said he felt he had ‘always been treading water’ in the Conservative-led council.
Of the his deselection, he said: “I was disappointed, but you don’t go into politics unless you expect to lose at some point.
“I think the council is losing a pressure for in-built fairness and sustainability. It is something to keep an eye on to see whether the Conservative councillors fulfil their promises.”
Mr Huggan said that since May 8, local membership of the Liberal Democrat group has risen by 25 per cent.
“It’s good to know there is support. These are new, keen people who have not joined before,” he said.
“We are not despondent. There will be new elections in two years’ time and the results I am sure will be very different.
“It is quite one-sided across most of our councils, but I think we will see things change over the next few years.”
Mr Huggan said he will remain active on the local political scene, adding: “I have been a counillor before and would hope I will be a councillor again.”
Eddie Stewart, a councillor for Brandon East for 12 years, lost his seat to a UKIP candidate alongside fellow ward councillor Tony Simmons.
Pragmatic in defeat, he said his deselection was ‘not the end of the world’.
“In the last 12 years I have been involved in many deceision for the town and other areas of West Suffolk, and I have enjoyed it, but life goes on,” he said.
“I’m pleasesd for those who got in, it was a tight race and they fought a good fight.
“We are lucky in Forest Heath to have quite a few experienced councillors to help you. I hope during my time I became one of them.”
Mr Steward, who is chairman of the recently formed Brandon Community Union, said he will still help to ‘guide the town’ through any arising problems.
“I am quite positive about the future and will work for the town in different ways. As one door closes you open another,” he said.
Mr Gathercole began as a Conservative district councillor eight years ago before dropping his political alliance and becoming Forest Heath’s sole independent councillor.
He said: “The village has spoken, but I’m not disappointed. I was relieved the whole burden has been taken off my shoulders. “It is called democracy and now it is up to others to lead the village the way it wants to go. There are no sour grapes.”
For a full round-up of the general and local elections, see pages 14 to 17.