Tim Yeo back in House

IN THE Tory stronghold of South Suffolk the battle was always for second place.In the last general election there had been just over 2,300 votes separating Labour from the Liberal Democrats – this year it was the Lib Dems night.

IN THE Tory stronghold of South Suffolk the battle was always for second place.

In the last general election there had been just over 2,300 votes separating Labour from the Liberal Democrats – this year it was the Lib Dems night.

Kathy Pollard secured a total of 13,865 votes – nearly 2,000 more than her Labour rival Kevin Craig.

And both agreed that the Iraq war played a major part in the results.

Mr Craig said: "I think there was a protest vote. I certainly saw a lot of votes spoilt with my name on it and things about Iraq and I think there was no risk here of unseating a Labour MP and those who wanted to protest could do so."

Mrs Pollard added: "The Iraq war is undoubtedly the reason we have beaten Labour and also the fact that the candidate comes from London and outside the constituency. I think it is also because we are very strong across the constituency – people see the work we have done on the district and county councils. They know we work extremely hard for them."

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Despite success for the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives Tim Yeo won the seat comfortably for the sixth time.

The last candidate to arrive at East Bergholt Sports Centre for the count, Mr Yeo had remained quietly confident throughout the campaign.

And with a majority of more than 6,600 votes – he also increased his majority from 2001.

He said: "I am delighted by the result here, an increased majority and being returned here for the sixth time – that is all I could hope for and, as I said in my acceptance speech it is a pleasure to represent South Suffolk again.

"I am concerned about issues like the funding of hospitals, about transport issues and the fear of crime. There is a range of issues like that which are important to people here. Council tax is very high in this area and there is a need for more police officers. I will continue to fight for things I believe in."

Despite the continued strength of the Conservatives in South Suffolk Mrs Pollard insisted her party could build on their success.

She added: "We are very pleased. I only had five months before the campaign started to bed into the seat so we are very pleased with the result.

"Tim Yeo has been the MP here for 22 years and it would be extremely difficult to overturn his majority in a short period of time.

"I will have to decide whether I stand again. It is a bit like having a baby – you say never again and another one comes along."