Labour and independents make gains at West Suffolk Council and in Haverhill wards
The political landscape at the newly-created West Suffolk Council has a very different look to it when compared to its forerunners following last week’s elections.
The single council has replaced St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District councils and will be made up of 36 Conservatives, 15 independent/unaligned, seven West Suffolk Independents, five Labour and one Green councillor, bringing an end to the previous dominance of the Conservatives in West Suffolk.
Last week’s outcomes at the ballot boxes across West Suffolk followed the national trend of kicking established parties and instead electing many Independent candidates to serve on West Suffolk Council, 22 in total.
In the six wards representing Haverhill, two of which; Central and South East, were created when the boundaries were changed because of the creation of the new council, a similar picture has emerged.
Of the ten councillors elected across the six Haverhill divisions, four are independent - all of them part of the Haverhill First group - four are Conservative and, probably most notably, two are now Labour.
In Haverhill South East voters favoured Haverhill First candidate, and the most recent mayor of Haverhill, Tony Brown.
He polled 346 votes, a fraction more than double that of his nearest challenger, Conservative candidate Liam Collins, who received 172 votes, 72 more than Labour’s Alan Stinchcombe, who did win a place on Haverhill Town Council but could not pull off the double.
The turnouts across all of the Haverhill divisions was disappointingly low, with the 32.55 per cent achieved in Haverhill South East being the best of the bunch, and the only one in the town to rise above 30 per cent.
The turnout across the whole of West Suffolk was 31.8 per cent.
The two councillors elected in Haverhill West are both Conservatives.
Margaret Marks, who served as the last ever Mayor of St Edmundsbury before the local authority ceased to exist, polled 487 votes, with ex-mayor of Haverhill and current county councillor David Roach getting 458 votes.
Becca Smith (Lab) came third with 396 votes, fellow Labour candidate Stuart Dillon earned 334 votes and former Conservative borough councillor Paula Fox, who joined Haverhill First a few weeks ago, polled 302 votes.
At the age of 23, the youngest candidate elected was Aaron Luccarini, who saw off the challenges of another former mayor of Haverhill, Labour’s Roger André (159 votes) and Conservative Sue Roach (195 votes) to take the only seat available in Haverhill Central with 239 crosses on the ballot paper. The turnout was 25.88 per cent.
Two seats were up for grabs in Haverhill East.
John Burns (Haverhill First) received the most votes of all five candidates, 246, to regain his place on the district council.
Labour’s Pat Hanlon ran him close, receiving 226 votes, with the remaining candidates being former UKIP town councillor Bryan Hawes, who stood for the Tory Party (207 votes), Labour’s Lora Miller-Jones (182) and the Conservatives’ Tatiana Chernavskaya (156).
The voting turnout for the division was 22.05 per cent.
In Haverhill South six wannabes stood to win one of the two seats available.
Jason Crooks (Haverhill First) regained a place on the district council with 310 votes, and he was joined by Labour’s David Smith, who in polling 274 votes earned his place on a district council for the first time.
David’s wife Liz Smith (Lab) missed out by just seven votes to her husband while Denis Lynch (Con) got 207 votes, Heike Sowa (Con) received 168 votes and Ken Rolph, who was the only Liberal Democrat standing in Haverhill, got 136.
The turnout for Haverhill South was the lowest of any in the town, standing at a paltry 18.80 per cent.
Haverhill North was the only ward to feature a candidate for the Green Party as Donald Allwright polled 240 votes to come fourth out of the five candidates.
The two seats went to Conservatives Joe Mason with 373 votes and Elaine McManus with 404.
The other candidates in Haverhill North were Ian Hirst (UKIP’s only entry into the district elections in Haverhill) who received 248 votes and Labour’s Damian Page, who got 221 votes.
Haverhill North had a turnout of 29.29 per cent.
Withersfield was an uncontested ward, with Peter Stevens (Con) taking the seat.
In the newly-created ward of Whepstead and Wickhambrook, the deputy leader of Suffolk County Council and current county councillor for Clare, Mary Evans (Con), had a huge majority over her only rival, Mike McConnell (Lab).
Mrs Evans received 620 votes compared to Mr McConnell’s 153.
The turnout for the ward was 39.73 per cent.
Another new ward created by the formation of West Suffolk Council is Clare, Hundon and Kedington, where three seats were available. Previously each village was a single ward in its own right.
Conservative Marion Rushbrook received the most votes, polling 1,13, followed by independent candidate Jim Meikle with 1,025 votes and Karen Richardson, who received 1,019 votes.
The two unlucky candidates were former Haverhill East borough councillor Robin Pilley (Con) , who got 822 votes and UKIP candidate Stuart Letten, who won 558 votes.
The turnout for Clare, Hundon and Kedington was 38.44 per cent.
The first meeting of the new West Suffolk Council will take place on May 22, when a Leader and a Chair are elected.