Little change after bruising election

VIDEO Liberal Democrats in Ipswich were licking their wounds after a bruising election, which saw their votes slump in much of the town.The party lost the Whitehouse seat it had held for the last four years, and but held St Margarets after a determined challenge from the Conservatives which forced a re-count.

LIBERAL Democrats in Ipswich were licking their wounds after a bruising election, which saw their votes slump in much of the town.

The party lost the Whitehouse seat it had held for the last four years, and but held St Margarets after a determined challenge from the Conservatives which forced a re-count.

The party got some consolation when Andrew Cann, the son of former Labour MP Jamie, won Westgate ward by just 13 votes from Labour.

That left the Liberal Democrats with one gain and one loss, although they were concerned about how their vote had fallen in other parts of the town.

Labour had a good day holding on to seats including Sprites and Bridge which they had lost to Conservatives in the past and reducing Conservative majorities in seats like Rushmere and Whitton that they would have to win if they were to return to power at the new headquarter of Grafton House.

Labour county councillor Tony Lewis won Whitehouse ward with a majority of 51 over Liberal Democrat Howard Stanley.

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The loss of Whitehouse in 2003 was seen as a key indicator of the party's decline in the town, which ultimately led to them losing power at Civic Centre 18 months later.

The news got better for Labour as they held on to the marginal Priory Heath ward where former council leader Bill Knowles returned to the borough nearly 30 years after he gave up his seat.

Labour were delighted that they prevented the ConservativeS from making any further gains, hanging on to the marginal Priory Heath and St John's Wards.

Liberal Democrat leader Richard Atkins accepted that controversy over plans to change bus services may have cost party votes because of their alliance with the Conservatives, but said overall the result was very much “as you were”.

He said: “We now have to work hard over the next few weeks and months to show what policies we have for the town and that there are no real threats of any bus route cuts.”

Labour was cock-a-hoop as Mr Knowles said: “We have been working very hard throughout the town and this result shows the Labour party is still an important part of the life of Ipswich and we will now be looking at winning power back in future elections.”

The new make up of the council is 20 Conservative seats, 18 Labour, 9 Liberal Democrat and one vacant seat in Castle Hill where there is likely to be a by-election in the summer.

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