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Chickens could come home to roost

PUBLISHED: 01:00 01 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010

IN the House of Commons they have a word for it - it's called the Chicken Run!

It happens when there is a change in parliamentary boundaries and MPs are left struggling to find a safe seat in the new-look House.

IN the House of Commons they have a word for it – it's called the Chicken Run!

It happens when there is a change in parliamentary boundaries and MPs are left struggling to find a safe seat in the new-look House.

Many take the chance to move from marginal seats to those which are safer – that's how Conservative David Amess made the switch from dodgy Basildon (which went Labour in 1997) to Southend West (which stayed Tory).

How Labour crowed at the Tories on the Chicken Run when boundaries were redrawn before the 1997 election!

So how do they feel by the Ipswich Chicken Run which has set the feathers flying as Peter Gardiner abandons Whitton for the safety of Gipping or John le Grys jumps ship from Rushmere to Sprites.

Some of the excuses are wonderful. Mr Gardiner is looking for a "new challenge" after 23 years on the council. After 23 years in a safe seat isn't fighting a marginal a "new challenge."

And Mr le Grys says he wants to represent a seat nearer his home.

On that logic I assume John Mowles is going to leave the safety of Gainsborough and fight marginal Rushmere, Keith Rawlingson is going to walk away from Stoke Park and fight the Liberal Democrat (and former Tory) stronghold of St. Margaret's, and Philip Smart is moving away from the safety of Bridge Ward to stand for the marginal St. Clement's.

What a load of tosh – in these elections the councillors are behaving like the kind of Westminster politicians that have brought that place into disrepute – they're looking for the safest seat they can find, and if it means trampling over everyone else to find it, then that's life!

SMUGNESS is an unpleasant trait in anyone, so I'll try not to exhibit it – but I can't help feeling a little pleased with two minor results I've had from the borough council.

A few weeks ago I had a go at them for the length of meaningless questions at the start of council meetings. Now these are going to be strictly limited to 30 minutes – as in the House of Commons.

And after I had a dig at councillors who were supplied at computers but hadn't started to use them, I'm now being told by many of them that they are happily using e-mail and can't understand what all the fuss is about.

Welcome to the 21st century, chaps!

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