Tories set to lead council

IPSWICH council will be taken over by a minority Conservative administration next week, it was confirmed today.The Labour group, which has been running the council as a minority administration since losing overall power in June's election, has said it will resign unless the minority Liberal Democrat group agrees to join it in a coalition at next Wednesday's full council meeting.

IPSWICH council will be taken over by a minority Conservative administration next week, it was confirmed today.

The Labour group, which has been running the council as a minority administration since losing overall power in June's election, has said it will resign unless the minority Liberal Democrat group agrees to join it in a coalition at next Wednesday's full council meeting.

And after a flurry of meetings over the last 24 hours, the Liberal Democrats re-affirmed that they are not prepared to work with Labour.

They are now to join the Conservatives in a coalition administration – with seats on the council's executive committee.


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The two parties issued a joint statement today: "The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Groups on Ipswich Borough Council have agreed to form a loose coalition in the best interests of the people of the town. 70 percent of the electorate voted for change last June, after 25 years of Labour administration.

"There are a number of major issues which need to be addressed urgently, including Transport, Arts & Leisure, Housing, and proposals to move from Civic Centre.

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"Most pressing, however, is the question of the Budget for 2005/6 and its potential impact on Council Tax, following a further significant reduction in Central Government funding."

The coalition is to be led by Dale Jackson, Leader of the Conservative Group.

Three Liberal Democrats will sit on the executive committee – two with portfolios. A further four Tory portfolio holders will be appointed.

The coalition plans to unveil its policies at next week's council meeting, but there have been clues to the future in recent comments by the Tories.

Conservatives have said they would seek to transfer the Regent theatre into a trust as soon as possible – in any case they are committed to its ceasing to require a council subsidy.

They would guarantee the future of the Corn Exchange, and also look for new ways of raising cash to bring Broomhill Pool back into use.

The Tories have also said they would seek to open bus lanes to other traffic – and to cut costs at Civic Centre.

Deputy Labour group leader David Ellesmere felt the decision could be costly for the Liberal Democrats.

"How will people who voted for them to keep the Tories out feel when they see them letting them run the town?" he said.

At present there are 23 Labour councillors, 17 Tories, and seven Lib Dems. One seat is currently unoccupied because of the suspension of former Tory group leader Stephen Barker.

Who do you want to see in power at Civic Centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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