Posted: 01.05.21 at 08:52 by The Editor
Voters across Suffolk will take to the polls on May 6 to vote for their Suffolk County Council representatives for the next four years, in a highly-unique Covid-influenced election.
With the pandemic having been at the forefront of people’s lives for more than a year, the election is set to provide a fascinating snapshot of how people feel their elected representatives have handled the crisis.
It may also be a reflection of how people feel those parties’ senior members in Westminster have fared too.
The county council – with its responsibilities for public health, education and adult social care, among other others – has been a key player in the Covid response locally.
Those measures have included procuring much-needed PPE at the start of the pandemic, supporting home schooling efforts, forming the Home But Not Alone helpline and ensuring vulnerable people were still receiving their vital day-to-day care.
And going forward, the coronavirus recovery will be the number one priority for the authority.
Many voters have registered for postal votes this year, but those voting in person have been advised they will be required to wear a face mask and may have to queue in a socially distanced manner.
Voters are advised to bring their own pencil this time around and should check the polling station on their polling card, as some may have changed as a result of the pandemic.
Alongside the Covid-19 response, the day-to-day activities of the council remain. Outlined below are some of its main responsibilities:
Adult social care
Waste disposal and recycling centres (waste collection is the responsibility of district and borough councils)
The whole of the council is being elected for a four-year term, meaning 75 councillors in total. Most divisions have one councillor representing them, although some have two.
That includes Felixstowe Coastal where Graham Newman and Steve Wiles, both Tories, will be defending their seats. Mark Jones from the Communist party will be among the challengers that also includes : Lesley Bennett (G), Seamus Bennett (LD), Jan Candy (LD), Margaret Morris (L) Richard Reaville (L).
In Felixstowe North & Trimley conservative Stuart Bird is expecting to retain his seat although he is fighting it out with Labour's David Rowe (L).
Of the 75 seats, the Conservatives currently hold 49, while Labour holds 11. The Liberal Democrats are defending five seats, the Greens three, while the remainder comprises five Independents and one West Suffolk Independent.
One vacant seat as a result of a councillor vacancy last year had previously been held by the Conservatives.
Meanwhile, Conservative leader Matthew Hicks has been an experienced frontbencher for some time, the 2021 election is his first as leader of the authority after usurping Colin Noble in 2018.
Eyes will therefore be on the election result to see if he can increase the Conservatives’ majority secured by Mr Noble in 2017 or whether it is reduced.
In addition, with two cabinet members not seeking re-election – education portfolio holder and deputy leader Mary Evans, and finance cabinet member Gordon Jones.
If the Conservatives win an overall majority again, there will be at least two changes to the frontbench cabinet positions.
For the opposition parties, this year will be about making gains in key seats and attempting to prevent an overall blue majority.
Labour’s former group leader and ex-MP for Ipswich, Sandy Martin, is making a return to politics in this campaign.
Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens have all had frontbenchers step down for this year, so will face fights to hold those seats.
The last local elections in 2019 for districts and boroughs were elections effectively dominated by Brexit.
This year, the Covid pandemic is likely to be that overarching theme, but there have been some controversial topics and talking points in the last four years which may also be considerations:
Road infrastructure projects – the Lowestoft Gull Wing is going ahead but the Ipswich Upper Orwell Crossings and Sudbury bypass schemes had to be canned amid rising costs. The Four Villages Bypass didn’t secure government backing. The Ipswich Northern Route was also put to bed once again, at least for now.
Education – changes to children’s centres and school transport attracted much ire from parent campaigners, while the huge demand on special educational needs places resulted in a £45million scheme to create more than 800 new places being formed. Home schooling numbers, off-rolling and oversubscribed schools all continue to be major concerns.
Roads – a blitz of pothole repairs had to be carried out following the Beast for the East a few years ago as the problem had escalated so much, while street lighting and increasing road flooding have also emerged as prominent issues.
Adult social care – Suffolk’s aging population has resulted in increasing demand for adult social care services, all amid a shortage of care workers.
Climate emergency – the authority has declared a climate emergency and pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, but the next four-year term will be the litmus test instigating the necessary groundwork to ensure that happens.
Council tax – historic underfunding and the continued wait for a fair funding review for local authorities from the government has meant Suffolk’s taxpayers have had to foot the bill of increasing costs with council tax increases.
The polls are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, May 6.
The candidates standing for 2021 are as follows:
Belstead Brook: David Busby (LD), Christopher Hudson (C)*, Keith Wade (L)
Cosford: Robert Lindsay (G)*, Christopher Mills (L), Jordan Millward (C)
Great Cornard: Marjorie Bark (LD), Peter Beer (C)*, Emma Bishton (L), James Killbery (G)
Hadleigh: Mick Fraser (C)*, Kathryn Grandon (Ind), Gale Pryor (G), Trevor Sheldrick (LD), Angela Wiltshire (L)
Melford: Ralph Carpenter (G), Kimberley Clements (L)*, Richard Kemp (Ind)*, Peter Stevens (C)
Peninsula: Simon Harley (G), Alastair McCraw (Ind), Mary McLaren (C), Keith Rawlings (L)
Samford: Sallie Davies (G), Georgia Hall (C), Mark Hurley (Ind), Ian Perry (L)
Stour Valley: Jane Carruthers (G), James Finch (C)*, Olivia Hughes (L), Bryn Hurren (LD)
Sudbury: Jessie Carter (G), Trevor Cresswell (Ind), Robert Spivey (LD), Simon Sudbury (C), Jake Thomas (L)
Sudbury East & Waldingfield: Luke Cresswell (Ind), Philip Faircloth-Mutton (C), Louise Fowler (L), Margaret Maybury (Ind), Theresa Munson (G)
East Suffolk area
Aldeburgh & Leiston: T-J Haworth-Culf (C), Ian Ilett (L)
Beccles (two seats): Mark Bee (C)*, Graham Catchpole (C), Peggy McGregor (G), Christian Newsom (L), Dom Taylor (L), Caroline Topping (G)
Blything: Philip Harle (L), Richard Smith (C)*, Andrew Turner (C)
Bungay: Annette Abbott (G), John Awty (LD), Judy Cloke (C), Donia Slyzuk (L)
Carlford: Elaine Bryce (C), Daniel Clery (G), Alistair Dick (L)
Framlingham: Stephen Burroughes (C)*, John Mercer (LD), Paul Theaker (LD)
Gunton (two seats): Steve Ardley (Ind)*, Jon Coxon (G), Janet Craig (L), Ryan Harvey (C), Robin Hinton (Ind), Peter Jackson (G), Keith Patience (L)*, James Reeder (C)*
Halesworth: Peter Coghill (L), Annette Dunning (G), Tony Goldson (C)*, Sarah Hunt (LD)
Kesgrave & Rushmere St Andrew (two seats): Kevin Archer (L), Lesley Bensley (L), Brad Clements (LD), Harrison Foster (G), Stuart Lawson (C)*, Debbie McCallum (C)
Kessingland & Southwold: Alan Green (L), Michael Ladd (C)*, Adam Robertson (LD)
Lowestoft South (two seats): Sonia Barker (L), Jenny Ceresa (C)*, Andrew Eastaugh (G), David Finnigan (L), Paul Light (LD), John Shreeve (LD), Jamie Starling (C)*, Elise Youngman (G)
Martlesham: Ski Evans (LD), Edward Lawrence (L), Patti Mulcahy (C)
Oulton (two seats): Edward Back (C), Nasima Begum (L), Jenny Hinton (Ind), George King (L), Tony Knights (Ind), Peter Lang (G), Dave O’Neill (LD), Keith Robinson (C)*, David Youngman (G)
Pakefield (two seats): Neil Coleby (L), Alice Eastaugh (G), Tess Gandy (L), Lee Martin (G), Craig Rivett (C)*, Fiona Shreeve (LD), Christopher Thomas (LD), Melanie Vigo di Gallidoro (C)*
Wickham: Alexander Nicoll (C)*, Rachel Smith-Lyte (G), Sophie Williams (LD)
Wilford: John Cook (L), Thomas Daly (G), Andrew Reid (C)*, James Sandbach (LD)
Woodbridge: Caroline Page (LD)*, Robin Sanders (C)
Bixley: Paul Bones (L), Stephanie Cullen (G), Trevor Powell (LD), Paul West (C)*
Bridge: Rob Bridgeman (L), Martin Hore (LD), Brieanna Patmore (G), Mike Scanes (C)
Chantry (two seats): Helen Armitage (L)*, Nadia Cenci (C), Lucy Drake (LD), Peter Gardiner (L)*, Martin Hynes (G), Adam Merritt (LD), Nathan Wilson (C)
Gainsborough: Stephen Connelly (L), Liz Harsant (C), Conrad Packwood (LD), Jenny Rivett (G)
Priory Heath: Nicholas Jacob (LD), Andy Patmore (G), Edward Phillips (C), Bill Quinton (L)*
Rushmere: Paul Cawthorn (C), Timothy Lockington (LD), Sandy Martin (L), Rachel Morris (G)
St Helen’s: Paul Daley (LD), Elizabeth Johnson (L), Sachin Karale (C), Tom Wilmot (G)
St John’s: Sarah Adams (L)*, Ollie Rackham (C), Jude Rook (G), Robin Whitmore (LD)
St Margaret’s & Westgate (two seats): Assis Carreiro (L), Oliver Holmes (LD), Inga Lockington (LD)*, Stefan Long (L), Debbie Richard (C), Tina Smith (BPP), Kirsty Wilmot (G)
Whitehouse & Whitton (two seats): David Goldsmith (C)*, John Mann (G), Sophie Meudec (L), Sam Murray (C), Martin Pakes (LD), Gerald Pryke (LD), Christine Shaw (L)
Mid Suffolk area
Bosmere: Suzanne Britton (L), Kay Oakes (C)*, Steve Phillips (LD)
Gipping Valley: Chris Chambers (C)*, Adrienne Marriott (LD), Terence Wilson (L)
Hartismere: David Appleton (LD), Eddie Dougall (L), Jessica Fleming (C)*, Stuart Masters (G)
Hoxne & Eye: Paul Anderson (L), Timothy Glenton (LD), Peter Gould (C), Guy McGregor (Ind)*
Stowmarket North & Stowupland: Gary Green (C)*, Will Howman (L), Keith Welham (G)
Stowmarket South: Emma Bonner-Morgan (L), David Card (Ind), Nick Gowrley (C)*, Keith Scarff (LD)
Thedwastre North: Ursula Ajimal (L), Andy Mellen (G), Harry Richardson (C), Jane Storey (Ind)*
Thedwastre South: John Augustine (C), Philip Cockell (L), Penny Otton (LD)*
Thredling: Helen Bridgeman (G), Kathleen Hardy (L), Matthew Hicks (C)*, Mark Pearson (LD)
Upper Gipping: Kieren Lathangue-Clayton (C), Julie Reynolds (L), Andrew Stringer(G)*
West Suffolk area
Blackbourn: John Bailey (L), Warren Lakin (G), Joanna Spicer (C)*
Brandon: Susan Dean (L), Victor Lukaniuk (WSI)*, Christine Mason (C), William Tanner (G)
Clare: Julius Bell (G), Bobby Bennett (C), Kerry Rogers (L)
Eastgate & Moreton Hall: Lorraine Allcocks (L), Trevor Beckwith (Ind)*, Daniel Linehan (LD), Jessica Livsey (G), Peter Thompson (C), Frank Warby (Ind)
Exning & Newmarket: Rachel Hood (C)*, Chris O’Neill (WSI), Craig Warren (L), Carrie Wheeler (G)
Hardwick: Chris Dexter-Mills (G), Helen Korfanty (LD), James Macpherson (L), Richard Rout (C)*
Haverhill Cangle (two seats): Nicola Forsdyke (G), Paula Fox (Ind)*, Mandy Leathers (G), Aaron Luccarini (Ind), Joe Mason (C), David Payne (LD), David Smith (L), Liz Smith (L), Heike Sowa (C)
Haverhill East & Kedington: Bruce Davidson (Ind), Roger Mynott (G), Damian Page (L), David Roach (C)*
Mildenhall: Ben Avison (LD), Jack Blomfield (G), David Chandler (Ind), Patrick Finn (L), Andy Neal (Ind), Lance Stanbury (C)
Newmarket & Red Lodge: Andrew Appleby (WSI), Andy Drummond (C)*, Simon Morse (G), Robert Pinsker (LD), Christopher Swallow (L)
Row Heath: Theresa Chipulina (L), Colin Noble (C)*, Claire Unwin (G), Don Waldron (Ind)
Thingoe North: Ian Chapman (LD), Beccy Hopfensperger (C)*, Oliver Ingwall-King (G), Katie Parker (L)
Thingoe South: Libby Brooks (LD), Robin Davies (L), Vicki Martin (G), Karen Soons (C)*
Tower (two seats): Robert Everitt (C)*, Donna Higgins (L), Steph Holland (G), David Nettleton (C)*, David Poulson (LD), Matthew Rowe (G), Marilyn Sayer (L), Frank Stennett (Ind), Darren Turner (Com)