Suffolk County Council elections: Conservatives take all but one of the West Suffolk seats
The Conservatives dominated the West Suffolk results for seats on Suffolk County Council today.
The counts at both Bury St Edmunds and Skyliner Leisure Centres proved a good day for the party as they took all but one of the area's divisions.
The first declaration for Haverhill East and Kedington saw Conservative candidate David Roach retain his seat with 1,188 votes.
He beat Damian Page, Labour, who received the next highest amount of votes, by 719 votes.
Upon winning, Cllr Roach, who before getting into politics worked for the Royal Mail for 35 years, said: "I'm really really happy, and I'm also privileged to be able to carry on working doing the job that I love doing.
"It's a brilliant job to be able to represent the people of Haverhill East and Kedington and I hope to do a really good job for them."
Moving forward, Cllr Roach said he would be looking at tackling various issues, including highways, but also carrying on supporting residents.
"There's some common problems across the whole of Suffolk and I think a joint approach might help with that," he said.
In total, 2,076 votes were cast for Haverhill East and Kedington, with a 29 per cent turnout.
The next saw the result for Eastgate and Moreton Hall, where Conservative Peter Thompson took 973 of the votes.
His closest rival for the seat, which saw a turn out of 37.89 per cent, was Independent Trevor Beckwith, who previously represented the area, received 788 votes.
Cllr Thompson said: "First of all, it is strange times so there were too may variables in the run up to the elections and the day is not over yet so we do not know what is going to happen.
"I think the people who voted me in were voting for an optimistic future, there is so much to celebrate in the area and I think it is due for a bit of optimism and positivity."
He also praised the quality of the candidates for the seat and felt the residents would have been well served with whoever would have won.
Bobby Bennett, Conservative, was then elected as the councillor for Clare after receiving 2,322 votes.
It comes after Mary Evans stepped down from the seat in December last year.
Cllr Bennett said she was feeling overwhelmed with the result.
"I feel very overwhelmed by the turn out, by the majority and I'm very aware that Mary Evans is so highly regarded so following in her footsteps is also going to be hard to do, but I will do my best," she said.
She added: "I really want to get to know all the 24 parishes and get to know the people in the communities.
"Clearly parking in Clare, and that's something I've campaigned on, is something I want to start talking to the community about soon."
The next Conservative victory saw a familiar face retain his Hardwick seat.
Richard Rout tasted victory, being given his second term in his seat after taking 1,806 of the votes.
He said his campaign, around being local and community focussed, was taken very well by the voters.
Cllr Rout said: "It has been a positive campaign and I think that was something I was struck by, I have been involved in campaigns in Bury since 2005 and this was by far the most positive on the doorstep.
"Even when some people disagreed politically they were still very courteous and polite I through this past year we have been through something bigger and those tribal rivalries have been put to one side.
"I think we have a strong record together with the communities I represent on delivering a raft of projects, mostly focussed on the environment and nature recovery and I think that resonated with people.
"It is a collective effort and as a county councillor I feel you have to be that person from around which community groups can deliver on their goals."
Next was Haverhill Cangle where Joe Mason and Heike Sowa, both Conservatives, were elected with 1,994 and 1,429 votes respectively.
Cllr Sowa, who is a frontline health care worker, said she was excited and ready to take on the new role.
"I can't thank my voters enough for putting their trust into me and I hope I will not disappoint them," she said.
She said she would be looking at improving the road infrastructure, that she wanted to see a railway line put in between Haverhill and Cambridge, and wanted to see Haverhill expanding 'greener' with more trees and shrubs planted.
She also said she advocates healthy living as a preventative measure to reduce illness among residents.
Cllr Mason said he was feeling 'incredibly humbled' after winning his seat.
He said: "I'm very excited, and really looking forward to serving the community."
He added: "Haverhill is a growing town and it's expanding at quite a rate, and we need to make sure that there's facilities to support this growing community.
"One of my concerns is the access to health facilities in the town, and it's really important that residents feel that we've got the infrastructure to support their needs.
"So that's going to be one of the main areas I'm going to be looking at."
Rachel Hood then retained her Exning and Newmarket seat, winning a total of 1,025 votes.
Cllr Hood said she was hoping for re-election after seeing the good work Suffolk County Council had been doing over the past few years.
"I'm extremely pleased," she said.
"I respect Suffolk County Council greatly, I think it's done an absolutely outstanding job and I was hoping that I would be able to continue to be part of it.
"I'm very grateful to all the electors and I'm looking forward to start work with my colleagues who are a tremendous group of councillors."
Cllr Hood also praised Matthew Hicks, leader of the county council, on an 'outstanding job' since taking up his role.
"Our children's services are outstanding," she said.
"I was fortunate enough to be one of the members of the special educational needs policy development panel which has already shown results."
Tower's seats saw Robert Everitt and David Nettleton retain their's, closely followed by Karen Soons remaining as councillor for Thingoe South.
Cllr Nettleton, who will now be starting his third term at the council said he was just looking forward to getting back to work on Monday.
Cllr Everitt said: "We made the decision not knock on doors, but we spoke to everybody and anybody that we saw.
"We had some positive comments from residents who were quite complementary about the way Suffolk Council had handled the pandemic with its Home but Not Alone phone number which enabled people to phone in to seek help which was well received."
The councillor, who contracted Covid during the middle of the pair's campaign, thanked his division colleague for helping him.
He said: "I relied very much on David to help me during my 10 days of isolation and would publicly like to thank him for all his hard work and also Richard Rout who co-ordinated a lot of our campaign for us he also helped pick up when I was unable to get out there and meet people."
"Had it not been for them it could have been a different story."
The Thingoe South's Karen Soons won 2,192 votes to take her second term at the council.
She said: "I was helping so many candidates and working really hard in my own seat that it has been a bit of a whirlwind.
"To have so many people retaining their seats in Bury St Edmunds is absolutely thrilling and hearing some of the other early results coming in is fantastic.
"I am thrilled that my majority has gone up by 82 votes and I just want to thank all the residents that voted for me and I will work for everyone whether they voted for me or not."
Then it was the turn of Joanna Spicer who retained her Blackbourn seat with 2,421 votes, in her ninth county council campaign, having first being elected in 1989.
But even with those years under her belt, Cllr Spicer said the issues she was talking to people about during her campaign across 16 villages had not really changed.
She said: "I reread my previous election leaflets and I would not change a word, people still wanted to talk about the same things - potholes, supporting village schools, getting new houses in the right place with plenty of support, more rights of way, better sign posting. Exactly the same things I wrote about in 1989."
The next seat, for Thingoe North, saw Beccy Hopfensperger retain her's for the fifth time.
She said: "It is a real honour to be back again and the turnout was really good as well so I am really pleased that people took the effort to vote.
"I think, we as a council, have a really strong recovery plan and we worked really well throughout Covid, actually as a system and not just as a council and I think Suffolk worked well together and I think we have some really good relationships to build on from that and come back stronger."
The Newmarket and Red Lodge result saw Andrew Drummond elected with 1,232 votes, in a count which saw a 25 per cent turnout.
He said it had been a tough campaign, with social media trolling a particular problem, but that he believed the Conservative brand had been strong.
In terms of what he was looking to focus on in his term, he said: “Newmarket and Red Lodge is quite unique in that half of it is urban, and the rest is rural.
“So I have varying types of problems over the whole area.
“I live and work entirely in the division so I'm very familiar with the problems that we have, and one of the most common themes really has been speeding and dealing with people who just don't respect where you should park.
“So a lot of highways matters and I think that probably, of everything the county does, probably is what interests me the most.”
Colin Noble, former leader of the county council, and Lakenheath born and raised, was then reelected to Row Heath ward with 1,620 votes.
He said he had enjoyed getting out and about and chatting to residents about local and national issues.
“We've got an ambitious plan for Suffolk and now, I think, we'll have a good majority to implement that plan,” he said.
He added: “Because I'm from there, you meet people in the street who have known me all their life.
“Walking the street the other day delivering some leaflets and my first ever babysitter came up to me.”
He said despite the variety of roles he's taken on in local politics, the thing he enjoyed the most was helping residents with their problems.
“That's a significant part of a councillors role,” he said.
“Be on the executive and that sort of thing, and I'm still involved in various things nationally, but actually, representing the people I've grown up with and helping them with their issues, I can't solve everything, but you can solve some things, and that's the bit that I'm really really pleased to have been re-elected to do.”
But it was not going to be a clean sweep for the Conservatives as West Suffolk Independent councillor, Victor Lukaniuk, retained his Brandon seat with 808 votes.
He said he believed his focus on local issues had won him the seat.
“As an independent in a small market town, I concentrate on local issues, and I've just won an election because I concentrated on local issues, not global issues, not national issues, on issues which people confront me with in the streets.
“Are the streets clean, are the street lights on, even pot holes, you have to deal with stuff like that.”
He added: “I've worked my socks off over the last four or five weeks.
“I've delivered by hand nearly five thousand coloured leaflets through virtually every door in Brandon, Elveden and Santon Downham.
“I've delivered over fifteen hundred postal votes.”
And the final result for West Suffolk saw Lance Stanbury take the final seat - Mildenhall - with 1,004 votes.
Though it is his first time being elected for the county council he already has vast experience for the job in hand.
He said: "I am delighted to be back in local government having spent a number of years on different councils, I was leader of Welling Hatfield Council in 2000 and then when I moved to Suffolk I was delighted to be elected on what is now West Suffolk, so it is great to be moving onto county to look at the huge issues that level has to deal with
Asked what he hopes to bring to his first term, he said: "I hope to bring my years of experience in local government and I do pride myself on being someone who gets things done, so it is really looking at all the major issues that Suffolk is dealing with, ensuring that Mildenhall gets its share and that we make sure things like our roads and social care is catered for."
List of candidates for the West Suffolk area (the asterisk denotes the current sitting councillor):
KEY - Conservative (C), Labour (L), Liberal Democrats (LD), Green Party (G), Independent (Ind), West Suffolk Independents (WSI), Communist Party of Britain (Com).
Joanna Spicer (C) 2,421 votes ELECTED
John Bailey (L) 469 votes
Warren Lakin (G) 534 votes
Victor Lukaniuk (WSI)* 808 votes ELECTED
Christine Mason (C) 766 votes
Susan Dean (L) 298 votes
William Tanner (G) 101 votes
Bobby Bennett (C) 2,322 votes ELECTED
Julius Bell (G) 642 votes
Kerry Rogers (L) 704 votes
Eastgate & Moreton Hall:
Peter Thompson (C) 973 votes ELECTED
Lorraine Allcocks (L) 378 votes
Trevor Beckwith (Ind)* 788 votes
Daniel Linehan (LD) 84 votes
Jessica Livsey (G) 266 votes
Frank Warby (Ind) 266 votes
Exning & Newmarket:
Rachel Hood (C)* 1025 votes ELECTED
Chris O’Neill (WSI) 683 votes
Craig Warren (L) 579 votes
Carrie Wheeler (G) 227 votes
Richard Rout (C)* 1,086 votes ELECTED
Chris Dexter-Mills (G) 350 votes
Helen Korfanty (LD) 329 votes
James Macpherson (L) 448 votes
Haverhill Cangle (two seats):
Joseph Mason (C) 1,994 votes ELECTED
Heike Sowa (C) 1,429 votes ELECTED
Nicola Forsdyke (G) 301 votes
Paula Fox (Ind)* 411 votes
Mandy Leathers (G) 276 votes
Aaron Luccarini (Ind) 467 votes
David Payne (LD) 189 votes
David Smith (L) 869 votes
Liz Smith (L) 864 votes
Haverhill East and Kedington:
David Roach (C)* 1,118 votes ELECTED
Bruce Davidson (Ind) 247
Roger Mynott (G) 167
Damian Page (L) 469
Lance Stanbury (C) 1,004 votes ELECTED
Ben Avison (LD) 60 votes
Jack Blomfield (G) 151 votes
David Chandler (Ind) 163
Patrick Finn (L) 271 votes
Andy Neal (Ind) 855 votes
Newmarket & Red Lodge:
Andy Drummond (C)* 1,232 votes ELECTED
Andrew Appleby (WSI) 468 votes
Simon Morse (G) 219 votes
Robert Pinsker (LD) 210 votes
Christopher Swallow (L) 497 votes
Colin Noble (C)* 1,620 votes ELECTED
Theresa Chipulina (L) 387 votes
Claire Unwin (G) 305 votes
Don Waldron (Ind) 369 votes
Beccy Hopfensperger (C)* 1,961 votes ELECTED
Ian Chapman (LD) 229 votes
Oliver Ingwall-King (G) 369 votes
Katie Parker (L) 471 votes
Karen Soons (C)* 2,192 votes ELECTED
Libby Brooks (LD) 230 votes
Robin Davies (L) 470 votes
Vicki Martin (G) 467 votes
Tower (two seats):
Robert Everitt (C)* 2,277 votes ELECTED
David Nettleton (C)* 2,104 votes ELECTED
Donna Higgins (L) 1,409 votes
Steph Holland (G) 1,993 votes
David Poulson (LD) 269 votes
Matthew Rowe (G) 1,489 votes
Marilyn Sayer (L) 830 votes
Frank Stennett (Ind) 691 votes
Darren Turner (Com) 120 votes
Elsewhere in our area:
- The Cosford Division saw Green Party member Robert Lindsay regaining the seat with 2,122 votes.
- Stowmarket North & Stowupland saw Green Party member Keith Welham taking victory with 1,512 votes.
- The winner of the Stowmarket South seat was Liberal Democrat Keith Scarff, with 1,030 votes.
- The Green Party saw another member voted in with Andy Mellen gaining 1,472 votes and taking the Thedwastre North seat.
- Liberal Democrat Penny Otton regained her Thedwastre South seat with 1,435 votes.
- Another who regained their seat was Conservative Matthew Hicks, who took 2,084 to win the Thredling seat.
- For Upper Gipping, Andrew Stringer of the Green Party regained his seat with 2,250 votes.
- Over the border in Norfolk, Conservative Martin Storey took 1,983 votes to win the Feltwell seat.
- In Thetford, the East seat was taken by Jane James with 967 votes and the West seat saw Terry Jermy retain his with 1,204 votes.
- And in The Brecks, Conservative Fabian Eagle took 2,172 votes to take his seat in Norfolk County Council.