Little change at Ipswich after vote

SUFFOLK'S political shape showed little change after this week's elections which left all parties claiming success.In Ipswich the overall shape of the council remained unaltered - Labour won one seat from the Liberal Democrats but lost another to that party.

SUFFOLK'S political shape showed little change after this week's elections which left all parties claiming success.

In Ipswich the overall shape of the council remained unaltered - Labour won one seat from the Liberal Democrats but lost another to that party. The Conservatives held what they had but made no gains.

However read through the statistics and the picture is more complex.

The Liberal Democrats had a difficult election. They lost Whitehouse, which they held comfortably 12 months ago, to Labour and won St Margaret's by less than 50 votes. Last year they had a majority of nearly 500.

In other seats where they finished second last year they were pushed back to third by a strengthened Labour Party - Holywells and Bixley.

They did win Westgate from Labour for the first time, but Andrew Cann's margin of victory, 13 votes, was much tighter than the party had expected. They had hoped to win by a larger margin by squeezing the Conservative vote in the ward.

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The Tories put on a brave face but were disappointed to miss out on many of their target seats - they already have Conservative councillors in Sprites, Bridge and St Johns wards and hoped to increase their numbers in these wards. Labour won them all.

And the Tories also hoped to win Priory Heath, where Labour had a majority of just 80 last year, but again fell short - this time by just 63 votes.

They will also be concerned that their winning margins in wards like Rushmere and Whitton were reduced substantially this year.

Conservative council leader Liz Harsant admitted she was disappointed by failing to win some of their targets: “We had put a lot of effort into St John's and Priory Heath which includes Ravenswood. I know the Ravenswood development is good for us and that is a seat we shall certainly look at in the future,” she said.

She was planning to speak to Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Atkins over the weekend to discuss reviving the coalition administration. “We shall see where we go from here, but I don't expect any major changes,” she said.

Liberal Democrat leader Richard Atkins said his party's performance would be looked at over the next few days and the group would be having a meeting to elect its officers early next week.

He said: “I think the bus controversy may have cost us votes - now we have to show voters that there is no risk to services and that the whole issue was blown up for political ends.”

Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole was very satisfied by the election results.

He said: “There are often difficulties for ruling parties in mid term and these results in Ipswich, which are reflected across the country, show that the party is not in freefall or about to collapse.

“We would have liked to win more seats, but we have held all those were defending and built a good platform for the future.

“We are in a good position to go ahead in the future in Ipswich and nationally with a new leader.”

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