Tories salute their golden girls
THREE Conservative "golden girls" chipped away at Labour's stranglehold in Ipswich last night.Eileen Smith and Sandra Doyle returned surprised victories in the Rushmere and Whitton wards, while Liz Harsant retained Holywells ward on a poor night for the borough council's ruling party.
THREE Conservative "golden girls" chipped away at Labour's stranglehold in Ipswich last night.
Eileen Smith and Sandra Doyle returned surprised victories in the Rushmere and Whitton wards, while Liz Harsant retained Holywells ward on a poor night for the borough council's ruling party.
But Labour, which also lost a seat to the Liberal Democrats, still has a 19-seat majority on the borough council after winning seven of the 16 seats up for grabs last night.
Despite the success of e-voting, which was used by 6,000 of the electorate, turnouts proved very low, with many dipping as low as 25%.
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But that did not spoil the evening for the Conservatives, who gained three seats and held another three and now have 12 representatives on the 48-seat council. Labour has 31 seats, while the Liberal Democrats increased their share by one to five.
Jubilant Tory leader Stephen Barker, who retained his seat in Bixley ward, said: "It was a very good night for us. We got the ones we thought we would win and worked hard on some of the others, which we only just lost.
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"Labour had better watch out because we're coming after them next time. I'm sure the rise in council tax had an impact – that was one of the most complained about things on the doorstep."
David Ellesmere, deputy leader of the Labour group, agreed the council tax was a factor in his party's showing.
"Obviously it has been a very disappointing night. We have got to learn some lessons from this," he said.
"The main thing was the council tax. We as a borough council did not have a great control over what the county council did, but as Labour we get tarred with the same brush."
"The electorate has sent us a message and it's one we have got to listen to. We gave a good, hard fight and our priorities are still right for Ipswich."
Liberal Democrat George King provided the first jolt for Labour, defeating Chris Newbury to gain Whitehouse ward.
Tory Stephen Cook then ousted Keith Rawlingson in Stoke Park with a majority of 88 votes and fellow Conservative Sandra Doyle provided another shock by comfortably winning in Whitton.
Eileen Smith then completed a memorable hat-trick for the Conservatives by winning Rushmere ward by a huge 242 votes.
Finance portfolio holder John Le Grys escaped by a whisker in Sprites ward after two recounts, beating off the challenge of Tory Robert Hall by just seven votes.
Current state of the council: Labour 31 (-4), Conservative 12 (+3), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1).