Souster loses District, quits town

Four of the five candidates who stood for Rye in the last District Council elections. Left to right Ray Prewer and Sam Souster (Labour) , Genette Stevens and David Ampthill (Conservative)

Polling stations in Rye, kept busy for the General Election, also saw higher turnouts of around 70 per cent (up by roughly 20 per cent on 2011) in the other two elections, for Rother District Council and Rye Town Council. A long day’s counting on Saturday, May 9 was the result, and the final count (for Rye’s Town Council) ended up being announced at 8pm in a nearly empty hall at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill with more candidates than counting officers in sight.

But the night’s shocks spilled over into the following week as long serving  Sam Souster, defeated in the Rother District election, then quit the Rye Town Council he had just been elected to.

The early hours of Friday morning had seen Conservative MP Amber Rudd fight off the challenge from Labour’s Sarah Owen in a marginal constituency  that Labour was expected to win. However Rudd doubled her majority and Saturday’s count followed a similar pattern. The already overwhelming Conservative control of Rother DC actually increased when they won two Liberal Democrat seats in Bexhill Old Town and threw out Labour’s Sam Souster from his District Council seat in Rye. The Rye seat was contested (left to right in photo above) by Ray Prewer and Souster (Labour) , Genette Stevens and David Ampthill (Conservative) and Liberal Sonia Holmes (not in photo).

Souster was re-elected to his seat on Rye Town Council, but lost his District Council seat to Conservative newcomer Gennette. A large personal vote of over 200 compared to the other Labour candidate Ray Prewer’s vote was not enough to save Souster, a long serving councillor and former Rye Mayor, who lost by 133 votes. But David Ampthill, the other Rye District Councillor, saw his vote nearly double from what he had achieved in 2011. David Russell has become Lord Ampthill since the 2011 election hence the name change on the voting papers.

The 2011 election in Rye Ward for the District Council was a seven way fight with two Independents, Mary Smith and David Wright, as well as one Liberal Democrat, but there were only five candidates this time around.

Rother’s Conservative leader Carl Maynard easily held his Brede Valley seat against Labour’s Cheryl Creaser, but she did win a seat on Rye Town Council. In the Eastern Rother ward which stretches from Camber through Rye Harbour to Icklesham, Conservatives Paul Osborne and Sally-Ann Hart easily held on with around twice the votes won by Labour’s Paul Carey (a former Rye Mayor) and Nick Warren.

However, unlike Rother, Rye Town Council has many new faces as nine out of the previous 16 councillors did not stand again. But of the seven who did stand again, Deputy Mayor Jonathan Breeds topped the poll (as last time) with 848 votes, and former Mayor Jo Kirkham came second, with only three fewer votes. Breed’s father John was in third place with current Mayor Bernardine Fiddimore fourth, and former Mayor Sam Souster fifth.

Pat Hughes from Rye Community Transport was the highest placed newcomer with 615 votes followed by artist and community activist John Izod. Independents are the largest group on the new council followed by Labour who now have four councillors with Souster, Cheryl Creaser, Ray Prewer and Charles Harkness. Andy Stuart from Rye Arts Festival who just missed getting elected in 2011 was elected this time.

The Rye Ward Rother District Council election result was:

  • AMPTHILL David (formerly RUSSELL), Conservative 1108
  • HOLMES Sonia Irene, Liberal Democrat 377
  • PREWER Ray, Labour 656
  • SOUSTER Sam , Labour 886
  • STEVENS Gennette, Conservative 1019

In 2011 the result was :

  • RUSSELL David, Conservative 620
  • SOUSTER Sam, Labour 577
  • JENNINGS Nigel, Labour 488
  • SMITH Mary Jean, Independent 470
  • SAINT Christopher John, Conservative 459
  • HOLMES Sonia Irene, Liberal Democrats 280
  • WRIGHT David Frederick, Independent 214

The new Rye Town Council comprises (in voting order)

  • Jonathan Breeds (848)
  • Jo Kirkham (845)
  • John Breeds (798)
  • Bernardine Fiddimore (765)
  • Sam Souster (758)
  • Ian Potter (741)
  • Pat Hughes (615)
  • John Izod (609)
  • Shaun Rogers (606)
  • Michael Boyd (519)
  • Ray Prewer (490)
  • Rebekah Gilbert (472)
  • Cheryl Creaser (470)
  • Charles Harkness (444)
  • Andy Stuart (443)
  • Andi Rivett (344)
  • Ella Bishop (325) Not elected.

Image Credits: Rye News library .