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Conservatives take back The Rows in West Suffolk Council by-election

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The Conservatives have won back The Rows seat at West Suffolk Council in last night’s by-election, with a former portfolio holder for planning taking up the seat.

A by-election was held on Thursday for the district councillor position covering Beck Row and West Row, previously held by the late John Smith, Independent.

Lance Stanbury, a former planning and growth portfolio holder at the predecessor Forest Heath District Council had stood for the seat in May 2019 in the first election of the new combined authority with St Edmundsbury, but both Conservative candidates lost out to Independents that year.

Cllr Lance Stanbury. (51806555)
Cllr Lance Stanbury. (51806555)

On Thursday night, Cllr Stanbury – who won the Mildenhall seat at Suffolk County Council in May this year – comfortably secured the seat over Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

“I am absolutely delighted,” he said. “It’s returning and working with lots of my former colleagues and representing an area I know very well here.

“It was disappointing [in 2019] – we lost a lot of seats, particularly in the north of West Suffolk, which was disappointing compared with the rest of West Suffolk as a whole.

“Now we are seeing in fact that the last election and the county election a stronger showing.”

Cllr Stanbury said the problems nationally with a small Conservative majority in Westminster at the time of the May 2019 election that was frustrating the Brexit process had an impact on local elections then.

Since the 2019 General Election in December when Boris Johnson secured a healthy majority, the party has performed better locally he said.

Cllr Stanbury already has a wealth of experience in local government, having served on Forest Heath District Council from 2015-19, which included holding the post of portfolio holder for planning and growth.

Originally from Hertfordshire, Cllr Stanbury had been leader of Welwyn Hatfield Council from 1999-2000, and in recent years locally has been chairman of the West Suffolk Conservatives and election agent for West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock.

The political make-up of the council is now 41 Conservatives, 12 Independents, six West Suffolk Independents, four Labour and one Green.

Full results:

The Rows

Lance Stanbury (Conservative) – 428

Theresa Chipulina (Labour) – 126

Robert Pinsker (Liberal Democrats) – 102

Turnout: 18 per cent. Conservative gain from Independent.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk