Ipswich voters go to the polls – but will anything change on the borough?

Voters are heading to the polls in Ipswich. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Voters are heading to the polls in Ipswich. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT - Credit: Archant

Polling stations across Ipswich are open until 10pm today as the town votes for a third of the borough council in this year’s local election.

One councillor in each of the borough’s 16 wards is up for election this year’s local poll – but the mathematics of the council chamber mean it is almost impossible for the Labour group to be toppled from power in the authority.

The votes will be counted tonight in the Corn Exchange. Counting starts as soon as the first ballot boxes are brought into the room – and officials expect the last result to be announced about 1am on Friday morning.

Of the 16 seats up for grabs, 11 are held by Labour, four by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington is defending her St Margaret’s seat.

Labour currently holds 33 of the 48 seats at the borough with the Conservatives on 13 and two held by Liberal Democrats.

For the Conservatives to gain overall control of the authority, the party would have to win all 16 seats up for election – a result no one sees as possible.

In effect interest at the count will centre on six seats. Labour is hoping to win seats in Holywells and Stoke Park from the Conservatives.

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The Tories are aiming to take seats from Labour in Whitton, Rushmere and Sprites. And they are also hoping to defeat Mrs Lockington in a seat she has held for 19 years.

This election sees the end of an era with several long-serving councillors standing down from the authority.

Former Labour mayors Jeanette Macartney and Hamil Clarke are joined by Jim Powell in not seeking re-election. More recent arrivals Hugh Whittall and Andi Hopgood are also standing down because they felt unable to devote as much time as necessary to council work.

Long-serving Conservative councillor George Debman is also standing down from the marginal Holywells Ward – prompting Labour to sense the chance of winning a second seat in this ward.

We shall be at the count keeping up with the results online during the evening and carrying a full report for online readers from first thing tomorrow morning.

But some commentators have suggested this could be the first Ipswich election for many years when no seats actually change hands!