THE Independents are back in Fleet! That was the message from voters on Thursday as road campaigner Denis Gotel and ex-councillor Stephen Gorys topped the poll in Fleet West and Courtmoor respectively.
In the process they removed former Chairman John Stocks and fellow senior Conservative Colin Hazell - the man who had toppled Coun. Gorys four years ago. The two black eyes spoiled a night for the Tories in which they tightened their grip on Hart -they now hold 22 seats with the Liberal Democrats on ten and three Independents.
Fleet Central was one of the last seats to be declared - after three recounts. But they were between the two Conservatives, Carol Leversha and John Stocks. Mrs Leversha eventually beat him by 35 votes - but trailed Denis Gotel by 60.
The new councillor, who only decided to stand at the last minute, told the Star: "I warned the North East Hants Transport Panel in February that if they went ahead with the scheme for Fleet Road Fleet people might have their say on May 2 and so it has proved.
"I really don't take much credit myself - this is the people of Fleet speaking in the only way they have been able to.
"Undoubtedly Coun. Stocks has been behind these road schemes 100 per cent and he has got his comeuppance. It's been a sad night for him, but he would not admit he could be wrong at any time."
Coun. Gotel said he hoped his victory would encourage Hart to stand up to Hampshire over the proposals.
Meanwhile in Courtmoor Stephen Gorys was also triumphant. He described it as " a great day" and said people were fed up with party politics in local affairs. He promised that in future years he would help other people who wanted to stand as independents on local issues.
He cited the main issue as "proposals for Fleet High Street and traffic calming measures all round Fleet and the surrounding villages" as the major issue on the doorstep.
His jubilant wife Shelley declared: "Keki Jessavala would be proud of him." Keki was an independent in Fleet for years until his death.
The Liberal Democrats were solid in their Yateley and Hawley heartland, but lost everywhere else. David Neighbour, one of the Hawley and Blackwater members, and his wife Joanne brought their 16-day-old baby daughter Jade to the count!
RESULTS * denotes retiring councillor.
FLEET: NORTH: - Stephen Parker (Con) 441, William Barrell (Con) 395.Not elected: Erica Axam (LD) 278, Richard Robinson (LD) 210. WEST: *Richard Hunt (Con) 804, Sean Holden (Con) 782. Not elected: Geoffrey Donkin (LD) 386. COURTMOOR: Stephen Gorys (Ind) 789, *Peter Carr (Con) 608. Not elected: *Colin Hazell (Con) 521, Nicola Dommett (LD) 430, Sheila Stone (Lab) 215.
PONDTAIL: *Sharyn Wheale (Con) 697, Janet Pearson (Con) 614. Not elected: Sue Fisher (LD) 499, Hugh Meredith (Lab) 258. CENTRAL: Denis Gotel (Ind) 695, *Carol Leversha (Con) 635. Not elected: *John Stocks 600, Jeff Smith (LD) 345, Lars Mossesson (Green) 118.
BLACKWATER/HAWLEY: *Brian Blewett (LD) 565, *David Neighbour (LD) 544. Not elected: Jim Pugmore (Con) 369. CROOKHAM WEST: Mike Poulton (Con) 746, Lorraine Fullbrook (Con) 722. Not elected: Paul Collins (LD) 490, Rod Fisher (LD) 402. EAST: *Peter Hutcheson (Con) 739, Deborah Moss (Con) 678. Not elected: Roger Carter (LD) 533, Adrian Emmanuel (LD) 501.
HOOK: *Jonathan Glen (Con) 988, Michael Hoffey (Con) 937, *Andrew Henderson (Con) 913.Not elected: *Fergus Kirkham (LD) 840, David Evans (LD) 724, Anthony Over (LD) 709.
HARTLEY WINTNEY: *Susan Band (Ind) 973, Mark Fullbrook (Con) 824. Not elected: Penelope Gale (LD) 326, Raymond Johnson (LD) 266.
FROGMORE/DARBY GREEN: *Robert Harwood (LD) 797, *Viv Street (LD) 708. Not elected: *Archie Gillespie (Ind) 349, James Lawrence (Con) 233, John Davies (Lab) 97, Joyce Still (Lab) 94.
YATELEY: NORTH: John Keane (LD) 615, *David Simpson (LD) 504. Not elected: Edward Dawson (Con) 336, Keith Spendlove (Lab) 84, Kim Spendlove (Lab) 75. WEST: *Alan Hammersley (LD) 624, Myra Billings (LD) 587. Not elected: Maxwell Fullbrook (Con) 288, Mary Jenkins (Lab) 143, Sophie Shepherd (Lab) 41.
EAST: Stuart Bailey (LD) 734, Graham Cockerill (LD) 698. Not elected: Erica Newbury (Con) 309, Joan Fullbrook (Con) 291, John Davis (Lab) 80, Kulwant Lit (Lab) 54.