Ipswich gears up for election season as rest of Suffolk sits out poll

Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council election count 2021

Ipswich is the only major Suffolk council having elections in 2022. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

As we near the end of March, local election season has arrived again - although in Suffolk the only major poll is happening in Ipswich, where a third of the council seats are up for grabs.

The county council was re-elected last year, the rural districts are due to hold elections next year and the next Police and Crime Commissioner election is in 2024.

In Ipswich there are 17 seats up for grabs - one in each of the 16 wards and a by-election in St John's caused by the resignation of Labour councillor Shelly Darwin.

It is possible for the Conservatives to overturn Labour's 12-seat majority on the borough, but it would be a major surprise and require more safe Labour seats to fall.

A repeat of last year's good results for the Tories in the town would leave Labour with a majority of only six - and leave next year's council elections on a knife-edge.

The notice of poll for the elections will be published by Monday, March 28, and nominations of candidates have to be sent to the acting returning office, borough chief executive Russell Williams, by 4pm on Tuesday, April 5.

The election itself will take place on Thursday, May 5, although many people are likely to vote before then because they are still registered to vote by post after last year's post-pandemic poll.

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Although Ipswich is the only place with an election in Suffolk, nationally politicians will be looking hard at what is happening - there are local elections across Wales and Scotland. And there are council elections in all London boroughs.

People will also be voting in most major cities across the country - which will be seen as an indication of what urban voters think of the government's performance.

Last year the success of the vaccine roll-out was credited with giving the Conservatives a boost nationally in local elections across the country.

This year's campaign is likely to be seen as a referendum on the government's handling of Partygate, cost of living concerns, and the Ukraine invasion as well as on local issues.

And there is speculation that the voters' reaction nationally could strengthen or weaken Boris Johnson's hold on the premiership after a turbulent six months.