Ipswich: ‘Andrea Hill factor’ could spell end of Tory control

LABOUR is looking set to retake Ipswich in May’s local government elections according to an exclusive Evening Star survey.

But in rural districts the Conservatives seem set to retain their grip – despite some concerns about county council cuts and the “Andrea Factor.”

Our poll was conducted along the same lines as last year’s poll in the run up to the general election which accurately predicted Labour’s Chris Mole would lose his seat to Tory Ben Gummer.

The local election “starting gun” will be sounded today with the formal publication of the notice of poll for the May 6 local elections.

All seats in district and borough councils across Suffolk are up for grabs – except in Ipswich where a third of the seats are up for election.

In Ipswich Labour needs to win just two seats from the Conservative/LibDem coalition to regain power for the first time since 2004.

We spoke to more than 300 people in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Hadleigh to get an indication of public support for the parties.

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Across the three towns the Conservatives had a narrow lead over Labour – 35 per cent to Labour’s 32pc – once “don’t knows” and “won’t says” were excluded.

But when the different towns were analysed the picture was different.

In Ipswich twice as many people said they would vote Labour as Conservative while in Felixstowe the proportions were reversed.

In Hadleigh there were seven Conservative supporters for every two Labour voters – and the Liberal Democrats remain in second place.

When we asked about the effect of county council decisions on the local elections vote, it was clear that this would be a major factor.

Nearly 43pc of voters said issues surrounding the �218,000 salary of Suffolk County Council chief executive Andrea Hill could affect their vote. Just over 45pc said it would not affect their vote. The remainder did not know.

And 39pc said cuts being introduced by the county council would affect their vote. Just over 52pc said the cuts would not affect them. The remainder did not know.