Can Labour build on its success in 2013 to boost its councillors in Ipswich?

NEWS Aerial
Views of Ipswich from the 22nd storey, the very top of the impressive Mill on the

NEWS Aerial Views of Ipswich from the 22nd storey, the very top of the impressive Mill on the Ipswich Waterfront, the tallest building in East Anglia Cardinal Park, Portman Road, Ipswich Town Football Club, Cineworld PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT 9.9.08 MyPhotos24 ref - aa 08 view from the mill 12 ES 17/9/08

Ipswich is the Labour Party’s heartland in Suffolk – at the last county council election it won 10 of the 13 seats up for grabs.

Local elections 2017

Local elections 2017 - Credit: Archant

In this election it will be trying to win at least one of those non-Labour seats, but in part of the town it may also be fighting a challenge from both the Tories and the LibDems.

In this election there are really only two divisions in Ipswich that really attract the attention – both are two-person seats and both are difficult to predict.

St Margaret’s and Westgate will almost certainly see the biggest turn-out in the town. It always does, but that is about the only thing you can predict with certainty about this seat.

Ever since it was formed in 2005 one of the seats has been held by LibDem Inga Lockington – sometimes by a country mile, sometimes by the thinnest of margins. In 2013 she hung on by 16 votes – 1,457 to 1,441.

She actually came second in the vote to Labour’s Sarah Adams who won a health 1,668 votes. But the LibDems are showing a resurgence and they won St Margaret’s in last year’s borough elections with Oliver Holmes.

Mr Holmes is standing in this election. Labour may feel it is under more pressure than the LibDems here.

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And don’t rule out the Tories in this seat either – this really is a three-way marginal.

The other seat that is worth watching is Whitton and Whitehouse. Labour won one seat here and UKIP the other in 2013. But UKIP councillor James Crossley is not re-standing and Labour hopes to take both seats.

The Tories were some way back in 2013, but if there is a collapse in the UKIP vote they will hope to take advantage of that here – and the seat does include a sizeable chunk of the Castle Hill borough ward which is safe Tory territory.

There were two Conservative councillors here between 2009 and 2013 so there is always a keen battle in this seat.

Elsewhere in the town Labour look reasonably safe in all the seats except Bixley which has always been a safe Conservative seat – the only one held by the party in the county town.

One wild card is the emergence of the Orwell Ahead group which is fighting the Bixley and Bridge seats alongside Kesgrave and Rushmere just outside the town. It wants greater Ipswich to gain more power. Can it influence the election in what are three safe-looking seats?

There is one notable departure in Ipswich this time. Former county council leader Bryony Rudkin is stepping down from Bridge division, in her place for Labour is Jack Abbott who fought the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency for the party in the 2015 general election.

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