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Labour still in charge at Ipswich Borough Council but Conservatives make ground

Labour has retained an overall majority at Ipswich Borough Council for the 2021 elections – but the Conservatives advanced with crucial gains for their representation in the chamber.

The Conservatives flipped six seats from Labour, which group leader Ian Fisher described as a “dream result”.

Gainsborough was among the changes, cheers echoing from the blue contingent on the count floor as Shane Pooley defeated Stephen Connelly, while first seat declared Sprites was another change as Labour’s Colin Smart lost to Steve Flood for the Conservatives.

The count at Ipswich Corn Exchange for the 2021 Ipswich Borough Council elections
The count at Ipswich Corn Exchange for the 2021 Ipswich Borough Council elections

Stoke Park was another to turn from red to blue as Rhys Ellis scored twice as many votes as Labour’s Shane Spitty, while executive member Sophie Meudec lost her Whitton seat to the Conservatives.

Conservative leader Ian Fisher retained Castle Hill, with new councillor Sam Murray joining him in the by-election win to fill the seat vacated by Robin Vickery last year.

The other two-seat ward was Holywells where both of those went blue.

Labour didn’t make any gains, holding on to the remainder of its seats which didn’t fall to the Tories.

There were also no gains for the Liberal Democrats. The Greens and Burning Pink Party did not win any seats.

Labour leader at the borough council, David Ellesmere, said: “There is no pretending – it’s not been a good result for us.

“I think there are a number of reasons for that – I think there is still some fallout from the General Election, Brexit and the government has got the vaccine bounce which is helping them.”

He said the Covid pandemic had restricted Labour’s campaigning, which was normally a strong suit for them, and added: “Hopefully we will get back to talking more about local issues in local elections.”

Ian Fisher, Conservative group leader, said: “We have closed the gap across the town in areas we don’t traditionally do well in, so it bodes well for the coming two years to realistically take control of the council.”

Mr Fisher said the party’s positive campaign was crucial, and said the voting public connected with Prime Minister Boris Johnson because he was “fallible”. He added: “One thing we hear a lot on the doorstep is how out of touch Labour seems to be with the electorate.”

Labour now has 30 councillors with the Conservatives on 14.

Results are as follows:

Alexandra: Adam Rae (L)* 1,266, Sachin Karale (C) 889, Tom Wilmot (G) 355, Gerald Pryke (LD) 149. Turnout: 36.2%. Lab hold.

Bixley: Lee Reynolds (C) 1,639, Paul Bones (L) 687, Stephanie Cullen (G) 249, Lisa Weichert (LD) 119. Turnout: 47.11%. Con hold.

Bridge: Bryony Rudkin (L)* 895, Mike Scanes (C) 771, Adria Pittock (G) 235, Martin Hore (LD) 94. Turnout: 30.57%. Lab hold.

Castle Hill (two seats): Ian Fisher (C)* 1,331, Sam Murray (C) 1,101, Emily Bosley (L) 785, Kimberley Clements (L) 596, Martin Pakes (LD) 258, Jayden Dodds (G) 247, Sophie Williams (LD) 217. Turnout: 41.65%. Con hold.

Gainsborough: Shayne Pooley (C) 1,066, Stephen Connelly (L)* 908, Brieanna Patmore (G) 143, Conrad Packwood (LD) 57. Turnout: 35.43%. Con take from Lab.

Gipping: David Ellesmere (L)* 967, Mark Phillips (C) 713, Lucy Williams (G) 149 Lucy Drake (LD) 76. Turnout: 30.57%. Lab hold.

Holywells (two seats): Philippa Gordon (C) 1,028, John Downie (C) 965, James Whatling (L) 830, Barry Studd (L)* 780, Jenny Rivett (G) 466, Paul Daley (LD) 193. Turnout: 40.78%. Con gain from Lab.

Priory Heath: Sarah Barber (L)*1,062, Andy Shannon (C) 891, Andy Patmore (G) 187, Nicholas Jacob (LD) 86. Turnout: 33.84%. Lab hold.

Rushmere: Alasdair Ross (L)* 1,208, Stephen Ion (C) 1,159, Rachel Morris (G) 200, Julie Fletcher (LD) 126. Turnout: 43.61%. Lab hold.

Sprites: Steve Flood (C) 1,039, Colin Smart (L)* 730. Malcolm Mitchell (LD) 68. Turnout: 36.32% Con gain from Lab.

St John’s: Neil MacDonald (L)* 1,300, Josh Owens (C) 1,097, Jude Rook (G) 200, Trevor Powell (LD) 116. Turnout: 37.61%. Lab hold.

St Margaret’s: Oliver Holmes (LD) 1,427, Debbie Richards (C) 977, Stefan Long (L) 722, Kirsty Wilmot (G) 235, Sue Hagley (BPP) 40. Turnout: 53.09%. Lib Dem hold.

Stoke Park: Rhys Ellis (C) 1,126, Shane Spitty (L) 569, Martin Hynes (G) 124, Adam Merritt (LD) 115. Turnout: 36.68%. Con take from Lab.

Westgate: Carole Jones (L)* 1,002, Katherine West (C) 631, John Mann (G) 173, Robin Whitmore (LD) 169. Jennifer McCarthy (BPP) 38, Katherine West (C) 631. Turnout: 31.27%. Lab hold.

Whitehouse: Tracy Grant (L)* 813, Stephen Lark (C) 783, Edmund Harrison (G) 193. Turnout: 27.94%. Lab hold.

Whitton: Tony Gould (C) 1,191, Sophie Meudec (L)* 978. Turnout: 36.39%. Con gain from Lab.

Key: C – Conservative, L – Labour, LD – Liberal Democrats, G – Green Party, BPP – Burning Pink Party.

The asterisk denotes a sitting councillor in that authority.

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