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Political row looming over borough’s plan to raise council tax by 3%

PUBLISHED: 15:51 30 January 2018

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council  in Russell Road

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road

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Opposition Conservative councillors in Ipswich are set to question the administrations council tax plans when they are debated later this month.

The Labour-led council is proposing to raise its element of council tax in the town by 2.98% and has outlined a number of investments in Ipswich services that it is planning to make over the next year.

However Conservative Group leader Ian Fisher said his group would have preferred to see a rise of 2% – which had been the government limit until this year.

He said: “It was probably to be expected but I think from a Conservative standpoint we would have tried to reduce it to the 2% we have had recently.

“I know the council has put their precept up but the county council has had seven years where it was frozen, whereas the borough council put up theirs year in year out.”

Mr Fisher also raised concerns over the subsidy being paid to Ipswich Buses, fearing that Ipswich taxpayers were “funding the routes that cannot pay for themselves”.

He said that the income Ipswich Buses generates would largely cover its costs, and would rather have seen a lesser council tax increase.

Council leader David Ellesmere is to outline a number of investments aimed at tackling homelessness in Ipswich, investing in the Waterfront, supporting Ipswich’s Food Bank, improving the Ipswich Regent theatre, tackling drugs gangs, and drawing up a lottery bid to restore Chantry Park.

His group also aims to help the poorest families who struggle to pay their council tax bills.

He said: “We share the concerns about homelessness and what we are doing should create places for a further 40 groups in our homeless families units.”

The council was also increasing the support it gave to poorest families – meaning the amount they have to pay for a Band B home will fall from £112 a year to less than £70. It is a move that will cost other council tax payers £1 a year, but he felt few would grudge that support.

He said the council’s investment in commercial businesses was very important: “The money we are getting from our property investment is enabling us to make the town a better place to live – without it we would be looking at really serious service cuts that would hurt everyone.”

It’s been a busy week across Suffolk and north Essex, here’s your catch-up guide to five things we learned this week.

If you heard the bang and fizz of fireworks but didn’t see them you probably missed the first day of the Ipswich Maritime Festival.

Yesterday East Anglia enjoyed bright and sunny spells but it looks like there could be a build-up of clouds later today.

Suffolk Constabulary chief constable Gareth Wilson writes about assaults on officers, how the force is improving its handling of non-emergency calls and the bravery of police dogs.

Members of the public are being advised not to approach a Hollesley Bay prisoner, who has absconded.

A man was arrested on suspicion of drug driving after his vehicle was stopped due to way it was being driving.

Ipswich Borough Council leader DAVID ELLESMERE writes about what needs to happen to solve Britain’s housing crisis.

An Ipswich woman will appear on Channel 5’s Blind Date TV show this Saturday in hope of finding love accompanied by her guinea pig.

An army veteran from Colchester who lost both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan has become an ambassador for an independent road safety charity.

Campaigners are calling for more scrutiny of police after strip-searches more than doubled over six years in Suffolk.

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