Voters in Colchester and Ipswich preparing to go to polls for local election

The election counts will take place overnight in Ipswich and Colchester. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The election counts will take place overnight in Ipswich and Colchester. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Voters in both Ipswich and Colchester go to the polls on Thursday when a third of their councils are up for grabs in local elections.

They are the only authorities in the area where there are votes this year – all district and borough council seats are up for election next May.

In Ipswich Labour holds 33 of the 48 seats on the council. One seat in each of the 16 wards is being contested with Labour defending 11, the Conservatives four and Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington is fighting to hold on to her St Margaret’s seat.

The Conservatives would have to win all Labour’s seats to overturn the majority – and that is not even a remote possibility in this election.

The battle is really being fought in six wards that are either already represented by councillors from both parties or where there have been close contests in recent elections.

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The Conservatives are hoping to win seats off Labour in Whitton and Rushmere and from Mrs Lockington in St Margaret’s.

Labour is hoping to win seats in Holywells and Stoke Park from the Tories. Sprites is currently represented by three Labour councillors – but the Tories have won here in the past and are hoping to repeat that success.

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The Greens and UKIP have never won a seat on Ipswich council – and while the Greens are becoming a more significant campaigning force in the town, they have not yet come near winning a seat on the authority.

In Colchester the battle is far closer – and all three main parties are vying to make significant gains.

The Conservatives are the largest single party in Colchester – but they are kept in opposition by a coalition of Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors.

The Tories need to win three seats to take power at the borough – and Labour is hoping to win enough seats to put it in second place and give it the chance to be senior partner in the coalition.

With 17 seats up for grabs, it is quite possible that there could be a shift in power but for the Tories to win three seats is quite a big ask in this election.

Polling stations are open between 7am and 10pm. The counts are expected to start shortly after then with the first results coming in around midnight. The last results are expected to be declared in the early hours.

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