Analysis: Green delight in the Suffolk County Council election

Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council election count 2021.

It was tough for Labour at the election count in Ipswich. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

This year's Suffolk County Council elections were good for the Conservatives, spectacular for the Green Party, gave a breathing space to the Liberal Democrats, and were very difficult for Labour.

The Conservatives retained their overall majority that they went into the election with - and should be able to run the council as a stable administration over the next four years.

However there were some significant changes and group leader Matthew Hicks will have to make some big decisions on the shape of his top team.

He knew he was going to lose his deputy Mary Evans and finance spokesman Gordon Jones - they did not stand in the election. But he also lost his property expert Nick Gowrley who had become a key member of the administration.

He was beaten by Liberal Democrat Keith Scarff in Stowmarket South - the second time he had beaten him after taking his Mid Suffolk seat two years ago.

The Conservatives did lose, or fail to win, a number of seats in Suffolk market towns to the Green Party.

And it was the Green Party's success that was the real story of the day as it increased its number of county councillors from three to nine.

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It won seats in Sudbury, Stowmarket, and Halesworth. It doubled its number of seats in Beccles - costing former council leader Mark Bee his seat in the process - and it took advantage of a Tory split to snatch the division that includes Woolpit and Elmswell.

The Greens came within a whisker of doing even better - they came very close to also claiming the seats of Bungay and Wickham Market. When these seats are next contested they will be the clear opposition to the Tories in these areas and could use that as a springboard for more success.

Leading Green Andrew Stringer who has been a fixture at Endeavour House for many years could not hide his delight, telling anyone who would listen: "When the Tories were talking about having the Greenest County I didn't think they meant this!"

The Lib Dems are a long way from being the force they were a decade ago, but their alliance with Greens in the council chamber and a reasonable performance in target seats does make them relevant in the council chamber.

Labour lost all its seats outside Ipswich - and struggled even in the town. Former MP Sandy Martin was expected to romp home in Rushmere but in the event won by only 35 votes.

Other seats like Gainsborough have been seen as Labour heartlands for years - but fell this year.

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