Poll: Voters in Suffolk and Essex go to the polls today to choose new county councillors

Voters are going to the polls today

Voters are going to the polls today - Credit: PA

VOTERS were going to the polls today in a vital contest which could change the face of East Anglian politics.

The vote hands people the chance to influence the shape of the county council - which many argue has more day-to-day impact than national government - for the next four years.

It is the county council that determines education policy, how social services are managed and how roads are maintained.

The county council is responsible for the getting rid of our waste, ensuring that libraries have enough money to operate and for financing the fire service.

Polling stations opened their doors at 7am and are open until 10pm, although many voters will have already cast their vote by post.

People who do not have their polling card you can still vote but the process will take longer.

In Suffolk politicians are continuing to campaign to the last.

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Conservative county council leader Mark Bee said it was important that voters understood the importance of the election.

“It is vital that people get out to vote,” he said. “And if they want a freeze on council tax bills for the next four years while vital services are protected then it is important that they vote for a Conservative administration that has proved it is capable of bringing in the kind of changes that are needed.”

Labour group leader Sandy Martin said his party was battling against public spending cuts in both Westminster and at the county council – Labour was pressing for more investment to create vital jobs.

And he warned that a protest vote for UKIP could be disastrous: “People who have voted for Labour in the past are being tempted to vote UKIP – but their message has nothing to do with creating new jobs or improving services. The only way to get that is by voting Labour.”

Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington said her party’s councillors had a good reputation for fighting hard for their communities.

She said: “Suffolk is facing many challenges – and issues here in Ipswich are different to those in the rural areas, but Liberal Democrats have shown time and again that they fight for their local communities and give very good representation at the county.”

Stuart Gulleford from UKIP insisted his party was not just about a protest vote.

“A vote for UKIP is about giving power back to local people – it is about giving communities the power to make their own decisions,” he said.

The leader of the Green and independent group, Mark Ereira-Guyer said: “We scrutinise and put the interests of people, not a political party, to the forefront.

“We need to do more to make communities work better, look after each other more and care for those we need care. There are too many older people not getting the services they deserve.”

In Essex votes are being counted overnight – with the final shape of the county council expected to emerge at about dawn tomorrow.

In Suffolk counting is not starting until tomorrow morning. The votes are being counted by district and borough councils at five centres across the county.

Seats in Babergh and Mid Suffolk are being counted at Trinity Park, near Ipswich. Suffolk Coastal’s votes are being counted at the Martlesham Police Headquarters. Votes from St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath are being counted at the Bury Leisure Centre. Ipswich votes are being counted at the town’s Corn Exchange, and the Waveney count is at the Water Lane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft.

The EADT will have reporters at every count with an online commentary on how the election result is shaping up – and Saturday’s newspaper will contain all the news, reaction, analysis, and results from the election.

To keep up with what is happening in the election on the day visit www.eadt.co.uk/news/local-elections

The first results from Suffolk should come through during the late morning tomorrow, and the final shape of the new county council should be clear by the early afternoon.

Current Suffolk County Council make-up:

Conservatives 55

Liberal Democrats 11

Labour 4

Green 2

Independent 2

UKIP 1

Total 75 Councillors

Current Essex County Council make-up:

Conservative 60

Liberal Democrat 11

Labour 2

Non-aligned 2

Total 75 Councillors