In his first Ipswich Star column, reproduced here, Ipswich Council leader, David Ellesmere reflects on Thursday’s local elections in Ipswich.
This is my first column for a month due to Archant’s impartiality guidelines during the Ipswich Borough Council elections.
It doesn’t feel like I’ve had much of a rest though! Like thousands of members of all political parties I have spent the last month tramping the streets, delivering leaflets and listening to what people have to say on the doorstep.
All that hard work paid off with Labour wining twelve of the sixteen seats up in Ipswich this year.
Of those, eleven were seats we already held and one was a gain from the Conservatives in Holywells.
This leaves the balance on the council as Labour 34, Conservative 12 and Liberal Democrats 2.
This gives us a solid base to continue our key programmes of protecting and improving services, building new council houses and improving the town centre.
Coverage of the Ipswich results suggested that not much had changed.
However, the Holywells result was highly significant. Until 2016 this was always regarded as a rock-solid safe Tory seat. Now Labour holds two of the three seats.
There are many reasons for this but the Upper Orwell Crossings project – and especially the “big bridge” – came up regularly on the doorstep this year.
The County Council needs to start taking seriously the concerns of residents of roads like Cliff Lane who could see thousands of extra vehicle movements on their streets if the original traffic projections for the bridge are correct.
Two issues which featured more widely across the town were brown bin charges and the state of the roads.
I spoke to many people who have friends and relations outside Ipswich who now have to pay for brown bins after their Conservative council introduced charges.
As long as Labour is running Ipswich Borough Council we will aim to keep brown bins free of charge.
Ipswich’s roads are in a terrible state and we constantly had to keep reminding people that this is the responsibility of Conservative-run Suffolk County Council.
The County has promised more money for roads. We need reassurances that Ipswich will get its fair share of this funding and that the quality of repairs will improve.