Woodbridge blow for Suffolk's Tory group
THE Conservatives have suffered a major blow in Woodbridge after the Liberal Democrats capped a successful party conference week by gaining the county council division on a swing of 3.
THE Conservatives have suffered a major blow in Woodbridge after the Liberal Democrats capped a successful party conference week by gaining the county council division on a swing of 3.3%.
Three by-elections were held in the town on Thursday to find a successor to Ben Redsell, who resigned from the county, district, and town councils following his guilty pleas at Norwich crown court to a number of sexual offences.
But in the week when the Conservative controlled county council stepped up its campaign for a single Suffolk unitary authority in the current review of local government, the Tories lost yet another sea to the Lib Dems following their defeat last year in the Thedwastre South of Mid Suffolk.
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The Tories fielded former county councillor Nigel Barrett to try to hold the seat, but the Tory majority of 22 from when it was last contested in 2005 was overturned by Liberal Democrat Caroline Page, who won by 144 votes.
There was better news for the Tories in the other two elections, when they held off a strong Liberal Democrat challenge in the town's Riverside ward.
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In the district contest, Labour was pushed into fourth place by Green Party candidate Anthony Taylor.
The Press Association calculates that the swing from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats in the county council contest was 3.3% while in the district contest for Woodbridge Riverside, the swing to the Lib Dems was 10.8%.
The results leave the composition of the county council as Conservatives 44, Labour 20, Liberal Democrat 9, and Independent 2. The new line-up on Suffolk Coastal district is: Conservatives 45, Liberal Democrats 9, and Labour 1.
Results in detail:
Woodbridge Division (County Council): Caroline Page (LD) 970, Nigel Barratt (Con) 826, Michael Weaver (Ind) 378, Roy Burgon (Lab) 147. LD gain from Con. Majority 144. Turnout 37.2%
Woodbridge Riverside (District Council): Geoffrey Holdcroft (Con) 313, Guy Jewers (LD) 254, Anthony Taylor (Green) 57, Roy Burgon (Lab) 56. No change: Con majority 59. Turnout 42.9%.
Woodbridge Riverside (Town Council): Robert Grimwood (Con) 263, Victor Harrup (LD) 246, Roy Burgon (Lab) 59. No change. Majority: 17. Turn-out: 43.7%
Key: Con (Conservative), Green (Green Party), Ind (Independent) Lab (Labour), LD (Liberal Democrat).