Labour fury at Lib Dem/Tory coalition

IPSWICH will continue to be run by Tories and Lib Dems after the two groups brokered a deal to maintain power in the town.Following local elections for seats on Ipswich Borough Council on May 1 Labour emerged as the single biggest group on the authority after gaining two seats to take their total to 21.

Neil Puffett

IPSWICH will continue to be run by Tories and Lib Dems after the two groups brokered a deal to maintain power in the town.

Following local elections for seats on Ipswich Borough Council on May 1 Labour emerged as the single biggest group on the authority after gaining two seats to take their total to 21.

With the Tories now holding 19 seats, the Lib Dem group, with eight, hold the balance of power and the ability to effectively decide whether Labour or the Tories took office.

Andrew Cann, leader of Ipswich's Lib Dem group, said the Lib Dem councillors made an in-principle decision to form the coalition with the Tories on Friday night but it was only confirmed after a series of negotiations between the two parties over the weekend.

They surrounded the Lib Dems priorities over coming months and included a desire to speed-up progress on securing Ipswich's first wind turbine and reducing housing density on certain development sites.

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The Lib Dem decision was made following presentations to the group by Tory leader Liz Harsant and Labour leader David Ellesmere.

The move means that when a vote takes place to elect the council's leader at a meeting being held on Wednesday the Lib Dems will vote to reinstall Mrs Harsant.

Mr Cann said: “It was very much a point of principle - do we want to form a coalition with Labour? The decision was no.”

The decision signals a continuation of a Tory and Lib Dem coalition formed in September 2004 when Labour relinquished power as a minority administration having lost a number of seats in the borough at elections earlier that year.

Mr Ellesmere condemned the decision, saying it flew in the face of the wishes of voters who had turned out on May 1.

“Everybody recognises that Labour won the elections on May 1. We won the most seats, we're now the largest party on the council.

“I think people will find it very hard to understand why the Lib Dems and the Tories are ignoring the wishes of the people of Ipswich.”

Do you think the Lib Dems made the right decision? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk