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It’s difficult to see beyond a Tory victory in Suffolk’s county council election

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 April 2017 | UPDATED: 08:45 13 April 2017

County council Conservatives at the start of their campaign. Picture: PAUL GEATER

County council Conservatives at the start of their campaign. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Archant

After my stunning success in predicting last year’s big polls (I put money on a remain victory in the referendum and was sure Hillary Clinton would win the presidency) I was determined to give up my crystal ball. Writes Paul Geater

The Suffolk County Council Labour group may grow - but is unlikely to be challenging to form an administration at Endeavour House.The Suffolk County Council Labour group may grow - but is unlikely to be challenging to form an administration at Endeavour House.

But as I’ve gone through the runners and riders for this year’s county council elections, I’ve found old habits die hard – and it has not been possible to ignore looking at who is likely to take the seats.

And given the national polls, local factors, and the votes last time the seats were fought in 2013, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no realistic alternative to the Tories retaining power in Suffolk – probably with an increased majority.

There are several reasons for this, but the main one is the implosion that has happened at UKIP over the last 12 months.

Nationally the party appears to be shambolic. Several of its leading members: MP Douglas Carswell, former leader (briefly) Diane James, former MP Mark Reckless, and MEP Steven Woolfe have left over the last six months.

Local elections 2017Local elections 2017

Locally there appear to be tensions in Waveney where group leader Bill Mountford was not re-selected for South Lowestoft and has decided to run as an Independent against two official candidates in the two-councillor division.

Waveney UKIP denies it is split – but when your group leader stands against official candidates that is certainly the impression created.

As UKIP had a majority of less than 100 in South Lowestoft four years ago, it is difficult to see them winning any seats at all this time. Labour were snapping at their heels and are expected to gain two seats here.

Bert Poole is the only sitting UKIP councillor from Waveney fighting under the party’s banner. There is a chance he could hold on in Oulton – but I expect the party’s vote to fall. Labour holds the other seat in the division and will be fighting hard to make another gain here.

Elsewhere in the county, UKIP could struggle to retain the protest votes it won last time after the referendum result. I expect the Tories to overturn the one-vote UKIP majority in Stowmarket South and to win back the Brandon and Newmarket seats they lost in Forest Heath.

Haverhill is an interesting situation – the sitting UKIP councillors from the town are highly regarded, but only one of the three councillors are seeking re-election.

The party only has two candidates fighting the town’s three seats. Sitting councillor Julian Flood might see his local recognition carry him to victory – but he could be his party’s only representative at Endeavour House.

One of the most interesting battles in Ipswich will be in the two-member Whitehouse and Whitton division, currently held by UKIP and Labour.

I can’t see UKIP holding on here, but Labour cannot be confident of winning both seats because of the strength of the Tories in the area. It could be a rare seat that splits one Labour, one Tory.

There is a general belief that the LibDems will do better than they did last time. That may be true but there isn’t a great scope for them to improve in Suffolk because all their sitting councillors held on in 2013.

They have recently won back the Hadleigh seat they lost in 2013 in a by-election, and the only other seat they may win back is the second St Margaret’s and Westgate seat they lost to Labour in Ipswich.

I can’t see many surprises in rural seats with the possible exception of Cosford (the Lavenham area). Here there is a well-known Green candidate standing against a new Conservative – with UKIP putting up a candidate for the first time in the division.

I have a sneaky feeling that the Greens could surprise a few people here.

Lastly in Bury St Edmunds there are going to be all kinds of fun and games, particularly in Tower division where a cocktail of personality politics and tactical nominating by the Tories has fired a very sparky contest.

My back of an envelope calculation is that after the elections the Conservatives will end up with 43 seats (seven gains, one loss), with Labour ending up with 17 seats (three gains, one loss).

I think the LibDems will end up with nine seats (one gain), the Greens with three (one gain), the independents with two councillors and a single UKIP member.

That would give the Tories a comfortable majority at Endeavour House – with a less fractured opposition.

20 comments

  • I think people have to realise that this is local elections and not national. I would like to offer my good luck and wishes to mark, as I believe what he is campaigning for is correct. You only have to look at headline news in this paper and it's about telling us 'locals' what to to do from Norwich. Ipswich needs local governing and also a local media, radio Suffolk is the bbc and too lefty for me!! So let's do what happened in the referendum, basically put your money where your mouth is, that way votes will be taken off the traditional vote and the Indies will gain and then the majority will be cut. It's a local vote not a national one!!! Also did you realise that all the high paid councelors for their renumeration where from failing areas eg adult care, child care, didn't see transport but I'm sure out council friend from Felixstowe had shares or dealings in a traffic management company. Happy Easter all

    Report this comment

    Matt Nicholls

    Saturday, April 15, 2017

  • Mark Ling - if you did not get into a grammar school then you are a prime example of how the selective system sometimes fails. AND, btw, did Geater get into kindergarten?

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Friday, April 14, 2017

  • True Blue, I'll never run a swimming pool but I have led a successful campaign to save one; I wont run a library but I've helped produce set a blueprint business plan that looked identical to what Suffolk Libraries became. I'll never run the New Anglia LEP, but I campaigned to highlight that just one in fourteen board members from Ipswich area was costing our economic zone. We now have four board members and greater direction. I'll never run the BBC, but I campaigned and won better coverage for Ipswich and Sufolk on Look East because it matters how our area is presented. And, I shall be targeting Suffolk County Council until our area gets the permanent and proper representation it should have. That's the power of successful lobbying.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Friday, April 14, 2017

  • If You wish to see change at SCC Mark Ling why field so few candidates - what's the point in voting for a party that cannot become the administration?

    Report this comment

    True blue

    Friday, April 14, 2017

  • How much do the owners of Archant donate to the Conservative Party? As for UKIP they are only a far right version of said party. Why is Geater always doing Conservatives PR for them?

    Report this comment

    JC

    Friday, April 14, 2017

  • How much do the owners of Archant donate to the Conservative Party? As for UKIP they are only a far right version of said party. Why is Geater always doing Conservatives PR for them?

    Report this comment

    JC

    Friday, April 14, 2017

  • Well it looks like I won't be able to make a vote yet again as yet again not one person has knocked on my door asking for my vote. In the 8 years I have lived in my current home only once has someone asked me to vote for them and that was 3 or 4 years ago I think by labour. If you want my vote then make an effort to at least ask me. In my ward I only have a choice of about 3 or 4 people to vote for and besides labour will win it as the candidate actually lives in the ward and I think he is quite popular with the voters.

    Report this comment

    mr_tall

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Well i for one will be voting Orwell Ahead at the elections & so will a good few others i have been talking to.

    Report this comment

    nfi

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Thanks Dalesman, much appreciated

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • UKIP equates to Tories both are right wing and do not give voters a real alternative and hence a lack of democracy!

    Report this comment

    clowe

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Yet another UKIP bashing article from Mr Geater! It's nice to see that our local papers are unbiased! As far as UKIP Waveney are concerned, there are no "troubles". They have a strong local following with a growing membership and are fully represented in all districts. With regards to the "stories" circulating about Mr Mountford; he did not submit a request to be nominated to stand at the county elections as per party rules. On top of that he "forgot" to renew his party membership when it became due in January, so couldn'twouldn't have been permitted to stand anyway.

    Report this comment

    Steve Harvey

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Looks like Citizen is worried about losing his seat on the council (just a thought) Good luck to Mark Ling, things need changing.

    Report this comment

    Dalesman

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Thanks Macke, much appreciated.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Citizen, bad grammar to start a sentence with AND , I like the choice of a new party,the two main current ones are extremely selfish and well out of touch .We recently moved into the ward where one of these candidates from "Reform Suffolk "will be standing .Rely on our family Mr Ling to vote for you and good luck from a dyslexic voter !

    Report this comment

    Macke

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • I take it that I cannot count on your vote then, Citizen? My Granddad was caretaker of Northgate School, and to be fair the only way I would have got in to a Grammar is by visiting him. However, that has never held me back, and does not stop me campaigning or making a positive difference for the my area. We need to put aside party differences and local prejudices and actually do what is right for our people and places in Suffolk. Two-tier local government is a luxury we can ill afford. We cannot continue with a bloated administration structure whilst inflicting £200m cuts to front line services. And what is worse is when the decisions for such cuts are inflicted upon the Ipswich to Felixstowe area by a county cabinet that doesn't have a single person living here. Only Reform Suffolk is offering voters a chance to tell the county council very clearly what is needed. We are standing in Bridge, Bixley and Kesgrave and Rushmere St. Andrew, but feel free to spread the word that sensible reform has been suggested. See orwell ahead website and facebook page for details.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Mr Ling, have you ever considered that the lack of interest in the "Reform Suffolk" campaign may be because it is a poor and ill-thought out concept of little interest to anyone other than your friends and fellow businessmen. Not all of us live in Ipswich or have a vested interest in Felixstowe. Oh and there should be an apostrophe in the word "Campaigns" used in your post. And you want to run the county, heaven help us!

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Archant's EADT and Ipswich Star has already called the result of Suffolk's County Council election (gains for the Conservatives); complain that the major parties have not been taking the election seriously; and that election podcasts are not local. However, they have failed to report Reform Suffolk Campaigns detailed proposals for local government reform (based on proven organisation and management structures), failed to mention our campaign in any election coverage (even though two of our candidates are the only independents standing in Ipswich area), and failed to report on the social media video messages that we are posting daily on key local issues. Our candidates have invested their own time and money to try to champion better representation for all in Suffolk. Yet, it is no surprise that Suffolk is unaware of their democratic options when Archant clearly choose to ignore them.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Badly researched nonsense from Geater, yet again. He's nothing more than the propaganda wing of the Tory party that has its tentacles spread far too far in Suffolk - and a great illustration of why we all need to be voting UKIP to get our democracy back where it belongs .....in the hands of actual voters!

    Report this comment

    KJP

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Geater ,he's a "could" old boy , yeah right ! ...out and about on his undersized bike to save a few quid , ramming his opinions into our faces on a regular basis . Oh don't ever disagree with him as he hates criticism , like a spoilt child he gets his own way , bans readers comments and now wants to ban their cars too ! He luvies up to tiny Tory MP Gummer , grabs every photo call he can with the little ,some say honourable man?.. What a sad character Mr Ipswich is , a second class reporter, regularly outshone by bloggers with far more intellect , experience than him, most people now place his remarks and outdated comments , straight in the bin !

    Report this comment

    Macke

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

  • Mr Geater - The well known Green Candidate in Cosford is not THE Robert Lindsay (Citizen Smith), it's another bloke. Calm down.

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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