SUSSEX DECIDES: The battle for Chichester District Council seats

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COUNT staff are hard at work in the Westgate Leisure Centre with the first result in the Chichester District Council election expected between midday and 1pm.

Ruling Tories swept back to power in the 2011 elections with 38 of the 48 seats.

Liberal democrats took eight and Independents the remaining two.

Before polling today there were 35 Tories in the chamber with Cllr Tinson standing down at Selsey North and Brian Weekes at Midhurst resigning from the party to sit under an Independent banner.

Two years ago high ranking Tory John Cherry was forced to resign when he found himself at the centre of racist allegations over comments he made relating to the Durand boarding school proposals at Stedham.

Although there is not expected to be a significant shift in the balance of power following today’s results there are a number of interesting challenges which will be the focus of attention.

The three seats in the Chichester East ward are all currently held by Libs Dems including party leader Tony French.

But at the West Sussex County Council elections in 2013, the ward went blue and so Lib Dems will be keeping an eye on the count here.

The three seats in the Chichester South ward are being heavily targeted by the Green Party which is putting up three candidates to oppose the two sitting Lib Dems and the Tory,

The Green candidates include Sarah Sharp, who masterminded the city’s ‘20’s plenty’ campaign.

Despite the surge in the UKIP vote at the county council election two years ago, the expected number of UKIP candidates has not materialised in the district council election.

However there is a UKIP challenge at East Wittering where candidates are fighting for both the Tory held seats.

Both the Tory candidates here are new with sitting councillor Graeme Barrett moving over to contest West Wittering and Peter Clementson not standing again.

The expected UKIP challenge at Selsey North has not taken place where voters returned a UKIP county councillor in 2013.

The remaining three UKIP candidates are all fighting for seats north of the Downs at Rogate, Petworth and Fernhurst where UKIP Parliamentary candidate Andrew Moncreiff is once again standing at Fernhurst.