Defeated Lib Dem leader vows to fight on

Liberal Democrat leader Arthur Preece
Liberal Democrat leader Arthur Preece

VETERAN Liberal Democrat leader Arthur Preece has expressed his dismay after his party lost all their seats – but vowed to re-group and come back fighting.

There are now no Liberal Democrat councillors in Hartlepool after both Mr Preece, 84, and Edna Wright lost out in this year’s all-out election.

Speaking to the Hartlepool Mail afterwards, Mr Preece – who has been a borough councillor on the Fens since 1988 – admitted the party didn’t do enough to motivate voters.

But the long-standing former councillor, who was council leader from 2000-2002, said the party will fight back.

Mr Preece, of Spalding Road, said: “It has been a disappointing night for the Liberal Democrats.

“We knew that we were fighting a very difficult election.

“I knew that there was a likelihood that we would not win any seats, mainly because the new wards are so diverse.

“We have blocks of support that have been fragmented.”

But a determined Mr Preece said the party would fight back.

He added: “We will rebuild and be back in the next elections in two years, unless there is a by-election first.

“The picture nationally has had an affect on Hartlepool.”

When asked whether he thought apathy among voters had hit his party hardest, considering the low turn out, Mr Preece added: “The turnout was low, it is normally higher than that.

“We have to accept that we have not been able to motivate people to come out and vote.”

The retired hospital administrator is governor of Manor College and of Fens Primary School.

Mr Preece stood in the new Fens & Rossmere ward but missed out to Putting Hartlepool First candidates Steve Gibbon, Alison Lilley and Geoff Lilley.

Meanwhile, Edna Wright was standing in the De Bruce ward but was pipped by Labour trio Rob Cook, Sheila Griffin and Sylvia Tempest.

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