The dust has now settled on this year’s local elections, and many of you will have read various opinions on what it all means for the General Election.

The basic facts remain, though. The Conservatives lost over a thousand councillors and control of nearly 50 councils across the country, while Labour made gains in key areas.

In Suffolk, the Conservatives no longer hold a majority on any district or borough council. People weren’t fooled by the ‘Local Conservatives’ rebranding, and they didn’t forget the chaos their MPs and councillors helped cause by supporting a variety of inept Prime Ministers.

In Ipswich, despite the leader of the Conservative group proclaiming - just two years ago - that his party would seize control of the council in 2023, they’ve never been further away from power. Thank you to everyone who continues to put their trust in hard-working Labour councillors.

However, while it was undoubtedly a good night for the Labour Party and a terrible one for the Conservatives, to declare next year’s General Election a foregone conclusion - in Ipswich or anywhere else - would be a grave mistake.

It was certainly uplifting to see so many friends rewarded for their efforts, but I know the job isn’t close to being done. Despite Labour’s success on Ipswich Borough Council for more than a decade, a Labour MP has been returned just once in the last four elections, in 2017.

Of course, national headwinds are important, and voters often take a party’s leader into strong consideration. It is clear that the Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer has made huge strides, and even to be in contention of forming the next Government after suffering one of our worst election defeats in the last century is nothing short of remarkable.

I’m conscious of my responsibilities in Ipswich. I’m standing, not simply to win, but to bring fundamental change. To put an end to the conflict and division that has soaked in locally over the last few years. To offer hope, leadership, unity and ambition. If that appeals to you then join our team and help return a Labour MP. Don’t wake up the morning after the General Election wishing you’d done more.

At this point I want to pay tribute to Cllr David Ellesmere who is stepping down as Leader of Ipswich Borough Council after 12 years of unstinting public service. He has calmly and competently navigated the council through this era of brutal Government cuts and the pandemic, while retaining and expanding core services. From Ipswich’s beautiful parks, to a thriving arts sector, from the council’s HEARS service to a summer iCard, David can look back at his achievements with real pride.

David’s leadership has also been vindicated at the ballot box, and he steps down with Labour councillors filling 33 of the 48 council seats. On a personal level, I’m so grateful for David’s generosity, support and advice, and for his friendship.

I now look forward to working closely with his successor, Cllr Neil MacDonald. Many people already hold Neil in high regard due to his work on council house building and retrofitting, and his determination to tackle homelessness in the town. I also know how decent, diligent and conscientious Neil is - he will make a fine leader.

A small mention also to Cllr John Cook, the outgoing Mayor. John has been tireless in the role, carrying out around 500 engagements, and raising £12,000 for Emmaus Suffolk, a charity which works with vulnerable, socially isolated or long-term unemployed people and those at risk of homelessness.

The new Mayor, Cllr Lynne Mortimer, is going to do a great job this year and I know she’ll love representing the town she’s lived in all her life.