Suffolk: UKIP march ruffles the feathers of the county’s Tories

County council headquarters at Endeavour House.

County council headquarters at Endeavour House. - Credit: Archant

TORY election chiefs in Suffolk are increasingly concerned about UKIP snatching traditional Conservative voters in next month’s county council elections.

They fear the anti-EU party could pick up a disproportionate number of votes from disaffected Tories gifting some marginal seats to other parties.

Meanwhile the Greens’ hopes of picking up more seats have been boosted after a Lib Dem candidate withdrew from the contest for the Cosford division in South Suffolk.

Officially Conservatives fighting the council election are confident of seeing off the threat from UKIP – but privately they have concerns that they could attract protest votes in some marginal wards.

One senior Tory admitted he would be delighted if his party ended up with a five-seat majority on the council – currently the Conservatives have a 35-seat majority.

The Conservatives fear that UKIP could attract protest votes in parts of the county where the re-organisation of the education system remains a hot political issue.

But cabinet member Colin Noble, who is fighting to retain his Row Heath seat in the far north west of the county, insisted that the campaign was being fought on local issues and his party’s message was going down well.

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He said: “People know this election is about their local services, and about getting good value for money. They know what we have done and what we hope to do in the future.

“National and European elections are different issues altogether, I don’t think people will waste their votes on UKIP.”

UKIP spokesman Stuart Gulleford insisted his candidates were picking up votes from all the other parties – and from those who would not normally vote.

He said: “We have a full local manifesto, and it is attracting a great deal of interest. We have candidates in most seats in Suffolk.”

The Greens are known to attract votes across the political spectrum – their presence on the ballot paper is not seen so much as a direct threat to one party or another.

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