Mid Suffolk local elections 2019: Shock as Tories lose leader and Green party makes huge gains
PUBLISHED: 16:23 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:20 04 May 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Mid Suffolk District Council experienced one of the most dramatic election counts in recent history at Wherstead Park today, as a single vote effectively decided the election outcome.
The Conservatives headed into the 2019 local elections with a majority, but the results saw the Conservatives hold 16 seats, the Greens 12, Liberal Democrats five and one Independent.
With the Independent being Gerard Brewster – who already has a cabinet position with the Conservatives – it is expected that he would side with the Conservatives, and if the Greens and Lib Dems unite, both sides would end up with 17 seats each.
Remarkably, the St Peter's (Stowmarket) ward was decided in favour of the Tories by just one vote, meaning that just one vote and the flip of a coin could have changed the outcome.
The biggest shock came from Conservative council leader Nick Gowrley losing his Combs Ford (Stowmarket) seat to Liberal Democrat Keith Scarff.
Mr Gowrley said: “It's very disappointing, not just for me we have lost some really good councillors. It's a real shame for some of the long standing councillors. All the ones that have lost have put in some really hard work. We are convinced it's the national picture affecting us.”
“There are a lot of disaffected voters who have had a protest vote, and it does go against you when you only have two people standing because the protest vote will always go to the other one.
“Brexit is at the root of most of it. We have had people saying they are not going to vote Conservative until it is sorted.”
The drama didn't end there – Green candidate Andrew Mellen, who notably utilised sheep for his election campaign – defeated cabinet member Jill Wilshaw in Bacton.
Former Conservative Suffolk County Council deputy leader Jane Storey failed in her bid to hold the Elmswell & Woolpit seat.
The Greens, who had been the official opposition group for the last four years, and were thrilled to increase their vote to 12 seats.
Andrew Stringer from the Greens said: “The whole Brexit thing has caused people to be very very concerned about the state of British politics and I really think this has given people the chance to rebuild our politics from the ground up.
“I don't think anyone would have predicted Mid Suffolk would be one vote and the toss of a coin from a Liberal Democrat and Green administration.
“This result is a clear indication of the confidence with the Greens to deal with local issues on the ground.
“We anticipate some very exciting time ahead as we start to deliver policies from what people want rather than handed down from on high.”
Meetings will now have to take place to see if any coalition can be formed as no party has overall control.
The full results:
Bacton: Andrew Mellen (G) 633, Jill Wilshaw (C)* 343. Turnout 42.75%.
Battisford & Ringshall: Daniel Pratt (G) 424, Kay Oakes (C) 319. Turnout 31.46%.
Blakenham: John Field (LD)* 354, Robert Grimsey (C) 196, Peter Jousiffe (G) 135. Turnout 28.23%.
Bramford: James Caston (C)* 348, Martin Redbond (LD) 256. Turnout 31.22%.
Chilton (Stowmarket) (two seats): Barry Humphreys (C)* 552, Oliver Amorowson (G) 548, Gary Green (C)* 428, David Poulson (LD) 360. Turnout 25.45%.
Claydon & Barham (two seats): John Whitehead (C)* 749, Tim Passmore (C)* 717, Helen Bridgeman (G) 562, Mark Valladares (LD) 427. Turnout 30.98%.
Combs Ford (Stowmarket) (two seats): Gerard Brewster (Ind)* 893, Keith Scarff (LD) 557, Nick Gowrley (C)* 443, Miles Row (G) 443. Turnout 30.50%.
Debenham: Kathie Guthrie (C)* 605, Terence Wilson (Lab) 258. Turnout 37.04%.
Elmswell & Woolpit (two seats): Sarah Mansel (G)* 1,006, Helen Geake (G) 925, Jane Storey (C)* 719, Kerry Burn (LD) 204. Turnout 35.04%
Eye: Peter Gould (C) 419, Timothy Glenton (LD) 370. Turnout 25.28%.
Fressingfield: Lavinia Hadingham (C)* 518, Peter Davies (G) 206, Garry Deeks (No party given), Paul Seeman (LD) 80. Turnout 40.24%.
Gislingham: Rowland Warboys (G) 506, Christopher Pitt (C) 421, Joanna Clifford (Lab) 110. Turnout 41.57%.
Haughley, Stowupland & Wetherden (two seats): Rachel Eburne (G)* 1,363, Keith Welham (G)* 1,277, Stephen Britt (C) 337, James Passmore (C) 293. Turnout 40.02%.
Hoxne & Worlingworth: Matthew Hicks (C)* 533, David Penny (G) 182, Stephen Card (LD) 108, Anthony Scott-Robinson (Lab) 82. Turnout 40.74%.
Mendlesham: Andrew Stringer (G)* 838, Elaine Bryce (C) 326. Turnout 49.49%.
Needham Market (two seats): Michael Norris (LD)* 847, Stephen Phillips (LD) 805, Matthew Oakes (C) 442, Paul Allen (C) 370. Turnout 28.19%
Onehouse: John Matthissen (G)* 463, James Spencer (C) 245, Nichola Willshere (LD) 125. Turnout 38.35%.
Palgrave: David Burn (C)* 465, Gillian Heriz-Smith (G) 335. Turnout 36.93%.
Rattlesden: Penny Otton (LD)* 628, Gillian Morgan (C) 254, Philip Cockell (Lab) 108). Turnout 40.90%.
Rickinghall: Jessica Fleming (C)* 502, Susan Coe (Lab) 302. Turnout 35.33%.
St Peter's (Stowmarket): Paul Ekpenyong (C)* 282, David Child (LD) 281. Turnout 25.83%.
Stonham: Suzie Morley (C)* 413, Nicholas Hardingham (G) 304, Jeremy Hall (UKIP) 113, David Payne (LD) 91. Turnout 39.83%.
Stow Thorney (Stowmarket) (two seats): David Muller (C)*, Terence Carter (G) 415, Clifton Bushe (C) 400, William Howman (Lab) 238. Turnout 22.02%.
Stradbroke & Laxfield: Julie Flatman (C)* 616, Catherine Leith (LD) 287. Turnout 38.76%.
Thurston (two seats): Wendy Turner (G) 732, Harold Richardson (C) 633, Oliver Passmore (C) 498, Susan Tytler (G) 438, Ellen Kirkby (LD) 206, Olivia Boland (Ind) 162, Francis Wright (LD) 158, Ursula Ajimal (Lab) 136. Turnout 35.45%.
Walsham-le-Willows: Rick Meyer (C) 428, Stuart Masters (G) 209, John Dougal (Lab) 136, Martin Spurling (LD) 69. Turnout 33.33%.
Key: * Denotes previous sitting candidate C – Conservative, Lab – Labour, LD – Liberal Democrats, Ind – Independent, UKIP – UK Independence Party, G – Green Party.