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What did your candidates spend in East Suffolk's council elections?

East Suffolk Council held its first set of elections in 2019. Picture: PA

East Suffolk Council held its first set of elections in 2019. Picture: PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Thousands of pounds were spent by political parties in East Suffolk in a bid to win your votes at this year's council elections, documents have revealed.

Graham Elliott, Caroline Topping and Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw won in Beccles and Worlingham for the Greens. Picture: TOM CHAPMANGraham Elliott, Caroline Topping and Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw won in Beccles and Worlingham for the Greens. Picture: TOM CHAPMAN

Election agents acting on behalf of candidates in the Thursday, May 2 poll were legally required to submit declarations of how much each candidate spent during the period before the vote.

The election expense returns, which had to be submitted before June 7, can now be inspected at East Suffolk Council's headquarters at Melton and Lowestoft by anyone over the next year.

Conservatives

The documents show the Conservatives paid £7,998 for 108,250 colour leaflets used across the new district, which was formed by a merger between the old Waveney and Suffolk Coastal authorities.

Former Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee lost his seat in Beccles and Worlingham - but the Conservatives formed the new administration at East Suffolk, with 39 councillors. Picture: Thomas ChapmanFormer Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee lost his seat in Beccles and Worlingham - but the Conservatives formed the new administration at East Suffolk, with 39 councillors. Picture: Thomas Chapman

The leaflet, printed by Suffolk Digital Print and Design on A3 paper but folded to A5, had different designs tailored to individual wards - with some containing additional inserts in a bid to target specific local areas.

With a huge rural area to cover, the party - which formed East Suffolk's first administration with 39 councillors, but saw big names such as former leader Mark Bee lose their seats - also spent £830.78 on postage to deliver its election literature.

Mr Bee, who was the election agent for the Conservative candidates in East Suffolk, said some other areas got additional election literature depending on whether they were target seats.

"The Conservatives have things that can be printed at a national scale, so that brings down our costs," he said.

Labour group leader Peter Byatt kept his seat in Kirkley and Pakefield in the first East Suffolk Council elections. Picture: Thomas ChapmanLabour group leader Peter Byatt kept his seat in Kirkley and Pakefield in the first East Suffolk Council elections. Picture: Thomas Chapman

"I've learned over the years that it isn't what you spend on these things, it's how you spend it.

"You can spend an enormous amount on things and still lose."

Green Party

Graham Elliott, one of the winning councillors for the Greens in Beccles and Worlingham - where Mr Bee lost his seat - said: "As a small party we made the decision to focus our resources in order to win seats in the council election."

In Beccles and Worlingham the Greens spent £923.50 on leaflets, £192 on letters, £213 on calling cards, £17.99 on envelopes and £5 on stamps, as well as £153.96 on advertising.

"Focusing our financial resources on two wards meant we were able to produce high quality leaflets using recycled paper and vegetable based inks," said Mr Elliott.

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He added: "It was vital that we won all three seats in Beccles and Worlingham ward if we were to have a strong voice on the new council and if we were to create a solid base for further advances in future elections."

The Greens now have a total of four councillors in East Suffolk, with Rachel Smith-Lyte also winning in Melton.

Labour

Peter Byatt - leader of the Labour group on East Suffolk Council, which has seven councillors - said the party aimed to deliver at least one leaflet through every door.

It delivered more in some areas where there were strong issues.

"We always make sure we keep our costs down," he said.

"Everything spent is our own money from our fundraising and members."

He also said the party prided itself on the fact that all its literature, save for a couple of very minor exceptions, was hand-delivered by members.

Liberal Democrats

Jon James, who was agent for some of the Liberal Democrat candidates, said: "As most people know, we don't have huge sums of money coming in.

"It's money that all has to be raised by individual members and we tend to spend as much as we need and no more."

In Martlesham and Purdis Farm, Liberal Democrat Edward Thompson won his seat by spending £73.80 on A4 leaflets - whereas Conservative Chris Blundell, the other victorious candidate, spent a total of £332.77.

Mr Thompson is one of three Liberal Democrats now on the council.

"We make a judgement at the beginning of what seats we want to target and those seats get a budget," Mr James said.

"We also had to bear in mind the European elections afterwards, which we had to make a contribution towards.

"It was an expensive time."

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