Tories blame Andrea factor for defeats

FURIOUS Conservatives in Ipswich today rounded on their county colleagues as they blamed the Andrea Hill salary row for costing them seats on the borough.

FURIOUS Conservatives in Ipswich today rounded on their county colleagues as they blamed the Andrea Hill salary row for costing them seats on the borough.

The town reinforced its reputation for bucking the national trend as Labour did better than expected - and became the single biggest party.

The Liberal Democrats continue to hold the balance of power, even though it was a bad night for the party as they lost one councillor and missed a target seat by more than 150 votes.

Today the town's Liberal Democrats are considering they options - group leader Andrew Cann said it was not certain they would renew their coalition with the Conservatives.

“We shall be writing to both the Conservative and Labour leaders to ask for their proposals for the future of the borough and then decide what to do.

“There will be a meeting to decide what happens next over the next few days - we might go into coalition or we might see if a minority administration takes over the council,” he said.

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Council leader Liz Harsant said the Tories were “devastated” by the result which saw the party lose Rushmere and Bridge Wards to Labour.

They held on to their single seat in St John's Ward by just three votes after four recounts

She said: “We thought we had got over the Andrea factor early in the campaign when we issued our strong statement opposing the salary.

“However it became clear that it remained a major issue on the doorsteps. The result is devastating for us and really there was nothing we could do about it.

“We felt our campaign was undermined by the county council right from the start.”

Labour leader David Ellesmere was ecstatic about the election result - and agreed that the “Andrea factor” was significant.

“Time and again this was the issue that was raised on the doorstep. We found Conservative voters who said they were not voting this time because of the county council.

“If you had said to me at the start of the campaign that we would win three seats I'd have been ecstatic - but after the campaign we have, these results don't surprise me at all,” he said.

Was it the “Andrea factor” that gave Labour such a good night in Ipswich? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk