Budget boost for Suffolk

SUFFOLK could today be in line for an economic boost following the government's mini-budget, Ipswich's Labour MP claimed.

Neil Puffett

SUFFOLK could today be in line for an economic boost following the government's mini-budget, Ipswich's Labour MP claimed.

New school buildings, new affordable homes for rent, an upgraded road link with the midlands and north - and even a new phase for UCS could all be on the cards, Chris Mole said.

However Tories warned that the government was creating too much debt to be sustainable.

Several schools in Suffolk are due to have major investment over the next few years - Westbourne Sports College in Ipswich is due to be almost completely rebuilt over the next decade - and Mr Mole said these projects could now be brought forward.

He said: “That depends on what stage the local education authority is at with the developments - but certainly schools that are planning major new developments should see them going ahead on schedule at the very least.”

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And there was also hope for motorists using the A14 to travel to the north and midlands - Mr Mole said the changes could see proposed improvements to the road on the notorious bottleneck between Cambridge and Huntingdon brought forward.

He added: “That scheme has already been drawn up by the Highways' Agency. It could be speeded up which will help with communications from Suffolk to the rest of the country.”

He would also be speaking to UCS chiefs to see if the changes announced yesterday could prompt them to bring forward their proposals for phase two of the university.

Mr Mole said: “The opening of UCS has been a great boost for the town and it would be good to try to bring forward the development of the next phase of the university.”

He said measures in Alistair Darling's pre-budget report, which includes a 2.5 per cent cut in VAT, would boost the local economy by getting people spending again.

He said Ipswich firms would not be immune from an impending recession but the new steps, alongside previous changes, should combine to help businesses cope with the downturn.

“This pre budget report helps families and businesses through the difficult times they face as a result of the credit crunch by putting money into the economy,” he said.

Mr Mole said it is “inevitable” Ipswich will see a downturn in business activity in the coming months but Mr Darling's package will help make the downturn “slower and shorter” than it would otherwise have been.

But Conservative Ben Gummer said he felt the package was “one last throw of the dice” on the part of the Labour government.

He added that Mr Mole did not have a good track record of predicting the fortune of Ipswich's economy.

“I would remind people in Ipswich that Chris said six months ago that the housing market in Ipswich was safe and since that point house prices have dropped by nearly 30 per cent in parts of the town.

The last thing businesses in Ipswich need is his kiss of death - what they need is a government that has a grip on its own finances, something this government does not.”

- Will the new economic measures get you spending again? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Help to beat the credit crunch:-

Meanwhile Ipswich council is today launching a new leaflet full of information to help people suffering from the credit crunch.

The council and its partners is offering to help residents and businesses in many fields, including benefits, housing, council tax, business support, concessionary transport, counselling and debt management advice.

The leaflet is available from the Tourist Information Centre and the St Lawrence Centre.

Projects that could be speeded up:-

Westbourne High School redevelopment.

UCS Phase two.

A14 from Cambridge to the A1.

New affordable - housing association - homes.