Election 2013: Conservatives safe in their seats across Suffolk Coastal
- Credit: PA
WHILE the Conservatives made losses elsewhere in the county, Suffolk Coastal’s Tories held on to win back every seat they have held since the last election.
But the ballot was a little close for comfort in some divisions, with Labour and UKIP shortening the gap on their rivals.
Overall turnout across the district was 34%. The most disappointing return came in Kesgrave and Rushmere where just 28% of the electorate turned out.
The biggest share of voters was recorded in Woodbridge, where Liberal Democrat Caroline Page once again bucked the district trend by reclaiming the seat over her nearest competitor, Conservative Patti Mulcahy. Commenting on her victory, she said: “It has been an interesting campaign and I am pleased and relieved to have won.
“I feel I have worked hard and have had very strong support from a local base of people.
“Anyone standing knows to stand with local policies. I am shocked by the lack of local issues involved with UKIP - a party that just makes people frightened of foreigners.”
In Wickham, Alan Ryall beat Labour to a distant second spot behind Tory Michael Bond, despite being kicked out of UKIP following revelations of his former links with the British National Party (BNP).
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Mr Ryall, whose expulsion came too late for the ballot to be changed, was apparently absent from the count at Suffolk police headquarters in Martlesham yesterday.
Another big victory came in Martlesham, where Patricia O’Brien notched up more than double her nearest competitor’s votes and laid waste to her Labour and Green rivals. Similarly Andrew Reid had little trouble reclaiming his Wilford seat with 62% of the vote.
Stephen Burroughes also romped home in Framlingham, where UKIP again came in a remote second - a result also reflected in Carlford, where UKIP’s Leon Stedman trailed Peter Bellfiled by some thousand votes.
Mr Burroughes said this year’s poor turnout had encouraged him to push for weekend voting and even a mandatory ballot in the future. He added: “I’m pleased with the result but stunned by the lack of turnout.
“There has been staggering support for UKIP. This is a message from the electorate but it’s a protest vote - it’s all it can be.
“I feel sorry for the other parties. How this plays out nationally remains to be seen.”
The outlook was less remarkable in Felixstowe North and Trimley, where the established three main parties vied for supremacy, with Conservative John Goodwin winning out.
Speaking on behalf of his party, Labour candidate and runner-up, David Rowe said: “We ran a good campaign and we are clearly the second party of choice. It gives us a good platform to build on for the future, not just for these elections but for the European elections where every vote counts.”
In Felixstowe Coastal, where more than one candidate was to be elected, a total of 332 ballots came back spoilt - 281 of which were rejected in part, but the good vote still counted.
UKIP’s highest number of votes came in Kesgrave and Rushmere St Andrew, where Frederick Rapsey fought off two Labour and two Liberal candidates to fall a few hundred votes behind Tory victors Robert Whiting and Christopher Hudson.
Mr Whiting said: “We are absolutely delighted to be elected. I am particularly delighted to serve in the division I know and love, and look forward to representing the people of that division at the county council.
“I’m grateful that people have recognised how we stood on local issues but I think some people were confused by the appearance of UKIP candidates. You only have to read their literature to realise they have no grasp of the real issues in our local area.”
Michael Gower swept aside competition in Blything, while Richard Smith beat the district’s only independent candidate, Tony Cooper, to second place in Aldeburgh and Leiston. Mr Smith said: “It is humbling to have the confidence of the people of Aldeburgh and Leiston. I pledge myself to do everything I can to help the area over the next four years and I thank everyone who voted.
“Tony Cooper was a strong candidate who I knew would be my main threat. It’s a sign of the times that the Liberal Democrats did not perform well, and I don’t think they will nationally.
“It distressed me that some people I spoke to at the doorstep said they never vote. I think it’s very sad when you consider the history and struggle there has been to get universal franchise.”