Anger flares over unitary bid

TEMPERATURES in the war or words over the future of Ipswich have been turned up with the borough accusing Suffolk of “low-level scaremongering” over proposed public protection provision.

TEMPERATURES in the war or words over the future of Ipswich have been turned up with the borough accusing Suffolk of “low-level scaremongering” over proposed public protection provision.

Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant hit back after the Suffolk portfolio holder Joanna Spicer warned the town's residents would be vulnerable to rogue traders, animal diseases and other emergencies if the borough broke free from the county's all-embracing trading standards services.

Mrs Spicer claimed Ipswich had indicated it would concentrate on “so-called urban matters”, adding: “It betrays a lack of knowledge of the number of smallholdings in the town and a lack of understanding of what services trading standards must provide by law.”

However Mrs Harsant said: “We are appalled that Suffolk County Council should show such a lack of understanding about our bid to create one council in Ipswich.

“We are also appalled that Joanna Spicer has to resort to low-level scaremongering and comments which underline that lack of understanding.”

She said Ipswich was “fully aware” of the implications of issues like bird flu. “Indeed, our officers offered support to our colleagues in Waveney during the outbreak earlier this year,” she said.

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“Mrs Spicer ought to know that Ipswich Borough Council undertakes a varied role in environmental health matters, including food safety, port health, fire risks in property and smoke-free legislation.

“We do not expect everyone in Suffolk to support our unitary bid but we do expect a debate on the facts.”

Mrs Spicer said she had undertaken a number of reviews of trading standards departments in unitary authorities all bigger than Ipswich.

“They are all struggling to provide the full range of statutory duties required by the Government.

“If Ipswich becomes a unitary council, it cannot pick and choose which services it provides. It must provide everything, to ensure that its residents and all the people from outside who shop in the town are fully protected.”

The county council will give its formal response to the Ipswich bid at a meeting later this month and the Government is expected to make a decision in July.

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