Political unrest at borough council

CIVIC Centre in Ipswich remains in the hands of the Conservative/Liberal Democrats today - but their wings have been seriously clipped by the Labour opposition.

CIVIC Centre in Ipswich remains in the hands of the Conservative/Liberal Democrats today - but their wings have been seriously clipped by the Labour opposition.

The administration lost its majority when disgruntled former Tory group leaders Dale Jackson and Stephen Barker defected to form a new independent group.

Although they insisted they remained Conservatives at heart, they voted with the Labour opposition in every vote at last night's council meeting.

Labour took advantage of the defections to throw Conservative David Hale off the executive and replace him with their own deputy leader Martin Cook.


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They also voted leading Tory John Carnell off the borough's human resources committee, replacing him with Labour councillor Carole Jones.

Labour leader David Ellesmere also warned the administration that his group would be seeking major policy changes over the next three months.

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He said: “With elections due in May and with the borough being in the middle of its budget-setting process, we do not want to cause added disruption to the borough.

“But the administration has to accept that things have changed and that they cannot carry on as they have before. We have had meetings with them and they have not accepted that - but they don't have any choice now.”

Controversial plans to reorganise the council's streetcare department into a separate “arms length” company have been put off until after the election.

And Labour is also demanding changes to the council's benefits department.

Council leader Liz Harsant was proud of her administration's work over the last 18 months - but was bitter about the defections.

She said: “I would ask that the two members who have left the Conservative Group have the moral courage to put themselves up for election this year, but somehow I don't see them doing that.”

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