Another councillor seeks second seat

SOME people can't get enough of council work! Another member of Ipswich council is seeking to double up by fighting a seat at County Hall.If Labour candidate Bill Quinton is successful in winning election at the Gainsborough by-election in May – and it would be a major shock if he lost – he will bring to seven the number of "twin trackers" who represent wards at both civic centre and county hall.

SOME people can't get enough of council work!

Another member of Ipswich council is seeking to double up by fighting a seat at County Hall.

If Labour candidate Bill Quinton is successful in winning election at the Gainsborough by-election in May – and it would be a major shock if he lost – he will bring to seven the number of "twin trackers" who represent wards at both civic centre and county hall.

Of course, being on two councils can keep people very busy – but there are financial rewards there now.


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A backbench member of both councils can earn well over £10,000 a year and an executive member of the borough who is also on the county council can earn about £18,000 from council work.

That's not a huge salary in most people's eyes – but it's not chickenfeed either!

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This year's elections in the Ipswich don't look especially exciting – except for the introduction of e-voting, which has caught on more than anyone expected.

So far almost 7,000 people have registered to vote online or by SMS messaging – that's 2,000 more than the council's best estimate before registration began.

But on the ground I really can't see the election setting the world on fire – we're back to the old old story of everyone knowing that Labour will still be in power at Civic Centre however they turn out and vote on May 1.

A couple of Labour councillors are throwing in the towel – David Isaacs isn't restanding in Rushmere ward and Whitton councillor Martyn Green is fighting in the Tory stronghold of Bixley.

Even Mr Green admits this is mission impossible – he's effectively standing down from the council for personal reasons.

Of course the main interest this year will be in the rural districts where election time comes only every four years.

Will the war dominate, or the swingeing council tax rises? It will be interesting to see if we end up with councils which are more political than they are at present!

WHEN I first saw that FirstGroup, which runs the Great Eastern rail franchise, had failed to pre-qualify to run the new Greater Anglia franchise, I have to admit I did smile a bit.

When they came to do presentations to the business community last year about how wonderful they were, their bosses did seem very certain that the franchise was almost in the bag.

But the message they brought was worrying – they seemed to regard the whole railway from London through Ipswich to Norwich as a commuter route.

InterCity style trains were clearly not part of their thinking – buffet cars would be a thing of the past, and we'd be lucky to see a refreshment trolley between Diss and Manningtree!

And they didn't seem to have much to say about the rural services – except talking about more integration with their bus operations. That was worrying.

So my initial reaction was that to some extent they'd got what they asked for.

But the more I thought about the Strategic Rail Authority's decision to exclude them from the bidding process, the more ludicrous it seemed.

First Great Eastern is very good at what it does – providing cheap and cheerful trains in and out of London.

They're as reliable – if not more so – as any others on the line and they've recently invested in some new commuter trains.

I can understand concerns about the kind of service they would have provided – but the full bidding process hasn't started and the SRA can specify the level of service.

It can demand the winner of the franchise runs InterCity trains and guarantees a good level of cross-country and local services.

All pre-qualification is supposed to do is sort out companies unable to run a railway from those who can.

FirstGroup has shown it can run a railway in East Anglia – and it seems farcical that it's been excluded from the bidding process.

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