Suffolk Tories on election success - as Labour reflect on where it went wrong
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Political leaders in Suffolk have been spending the weekend looking at their teams and preparing for the new administration.
Current Conservative council leader Matthew Hicks was delighted by the success - the Conservatives won 55 of the 75 seats, their best performance in 12 years. The last time his party won more than that was in the 1970s when there were more councillors.
He is talking to colleagues - and one of their first jobs will be to gather to elect a new group leader. He said: "This was a great result - we increased the number of councillors after we did well in 2017.
"I can't talk about cabinets or anything like that. There has to be a group leader elected before that can happen - and the new council leader will be chosen at the annual meeting at the end of the month. At that point the new cabinet will be announced."
He had campaigned in 22 divisions across the county and felt there was a good spread of councillors - although he was sorry to have lost some colleagues who had lost seats in some market towns.
"But at the end of the day, we now have 55 councillors - we've increased our numbers. We weren't in a position to treble our numbers, but this is a very good result."
Leading Green councillor Andrew Stringer is still coming to terms with the fact that his group has trebled in size from three to nine and has enough councillors to become the official opposition on its own.
But he expected to continue in a joint group with Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors at Endeavour House: "We've always believed in co-operation and I think that will continue. We all work well together."
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He hopes to be able to use the research facilities that are granted to the official opposition - and shadow cabinet members will be entitled to an allowance to enable them to do more work on holding the administration to account.
Labour group leader Sarah Adams felt the Covid crisis and the national situation had hit her party hard - but felt that the leadership needed to put out a clear message about what the party was all about.
She said: "I'm still a great supporter of Keir and there was a bit a hangover from the Corbyn era when we were out campaigning. But we need to have a clear message we can tell people about - give more more a reason to vote Labour."
Her group would be looking to work informally with other opposition groups at the county council: "The green agenda is very important in Suffolk on many different levels and we shall be looking to co-operate on holding the administration to account."
There are just five Labour councillors left at the county - all representing Ipswich seats - and she accepted that the party had a big job on its hands to make its message relevant to people across Suffolk.