Labour joy as Tories lose seats in Ipswich
- Credit: Paul Geater
Ipswich Conservatives were crushed in this year's local elections - losing half of the seats they were defending to the ruling Labour group and seeing the departure of one of their most experienced councillors.
Former group leader Nadia Cenci was defeated in her Stoke Park ward by Labour's Tony Blacker and the Tories also lost in Holywells.
They had hoped to build on last year's successes and win extra seats in Sprites, Gainsborough and Whitton but fell short in all those seats.
Meanwhile Labour was celebrating its best performance for years - but the most successful individual candidate was Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington who won a 1,200 majority in St Margarets.
Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said the results in Ipswich and in other councils across the country would determine the future of Boris Johnson's premiership.
He said: "I think things will become a lot clearer in the next 24 to 48 hours as more results come through. I think they party hasn't done too badly in the north and midlands but elsewhere it sounds pretty grim and we've got the London results to come and they don't look too good."
Partygate had not been a major issue on the doorsteps: "But we didn't tend to raise it as a subject."
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However voters had been concerned about the cost of living crisis and rising inflation.
Jubilant Labour council leader David Ellesmere said his party workers had struggled to believe how well the campaign had been going: "We thought it was going our way but after some pretty disappointing years recently we didn't really believe it could be this good.
"At the start of the campaign we were knocking on doors of people who said they always voted Tory but they wouldn't be voting as long as Mr Johnson was leader. But they couldn't bring themselves to vote Labour.
"By the end of the campaign people were coming straight across. It is the parties, the cost of living crisis, everything really."
Mr Fisher said that his party's initial analysis suggested that the Labour vote had not increased significantly - but that turnout had gone down compared with last year and it seemed that many Tories had just not voted.
Labour has strengthened its already firm grip on the council and has 32 councillors. There are now 12 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats and one independent on the authrority.