'Election winners denied power'

LABOUR has accused Tory and Liberal Democrat councillors of “clinging to power” after they decided to carry on their joint administration in Ipswich, even though Labour has the most councillors.

Graham Dines

LABOUR has accused Tory and Liberal Democrat councillors of “clinging to power” after they decided to carry on their joint administration in Ipswich, even though Labour has the most councillors.

The Tories lost two seats in the borough council elections earlier this month - Rushmere and Bridge - to Labour and retained the St John's seat with a majority of just three. Labour also gained Whitehouse ward from the Lib Dems.

Labour leapfrogged the Tories to become the largest party with 21 seats, but the combined Conservative-Liberal Democrat groups have 27 seats.

Council leader Elizabeth Harsant, who heads the Conservative group, said: “We are very proud of all we have achieved jointly over the last three and a half years; it has been a very fruitful partnership. We all believe that, with the Boundary Committee progressing its unitary council report, and with the local development framework at a crucial stage, it is important for the town that we have stability and continuity.

“We will continue to invest in our public buildings and focus on improving the Council's housing stock, and encouraging developers to build family homes, as well as working with the Police to reduce antisocial behaviour which blights people's lives. The Jumpers for Goalposts programme, which reduced crime by 36% last summer, will be even bigger and better this year.”

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Andrew Cann, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “We do have policy differences with the Conservatives, but these have been resolved amicably, and we have been able to take our ideas forward to develop a cleaner, greener and safer agenda for the town.

“I look forward to forthcoming announcements on our first wind turbines in Ipswich, further refinement of the local development framework and exciting news for Ipswich Town Centre shopping.”

“With unitary government for Ipswich only a step away and the oppositions plans for Ipswich so thin it would be wrong to turn over control of the town to a minority administration. We are proud of what we have achieved over the last few years and plan to make the next year no different.”

Labour group leader David Ellesmere said: “The policies of the Tories and Liberal Democrats were decisively rejected at the elections on May 1. Their claim that we need `continuity' is astonishing.

“Ipswich voted for change: for affordable family homes, not flats; better maintained roads and pavements; fewer empty shops; and cheaper bus fares. The administration now lacks any legitimacy and does not represent the wishes of the people of Ipswich.

“This desperate attempt to cling to power will anger many people who are desperate to see a change of direction for Ipswich,” said Mr Ellesmere.

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