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Council ensures football stays in town

PUBLISHED: 02:00 18 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 March 2010

THANK heavens Ipswich council owns the freehold of Portman Road!

When the full extent of the football club's cash crisis became clear a few weeks ago a senior figure at Civic Centre told me: "At least we own the land that the ground is built on.

THANK heavens Ipswich council owns the freehold of Portman Road!

When the full extent of the football club's cash crisis became clear a few weeks ago a senior figure at Civic Centre told me: "At least we own the land that the ground is built on.

"They can't just sell out to a supermarket and move to another site miles away."

I was surprised at that comment: "But surely that wouldn't be on the agenda anyway," I said. "The club's just built two massive new stands."

I didn't think any more about it until the other day when I read the comments of director Roger Finbow in a national newspaper.

"If we owned the freehold we could just flog it to someone, but we cannot," he's reported to have told the newspaper.

I don't know if that's official board policy – or whether Mr Finbow was just thinking outloud in an unguarded moment.

But his comments certainly sent the alarm bells ringing for me and – I'm sure – tens of thousands of other town fans.

The prospect of Ipswich Town becoming a football nomad like Brighton or Wimbledon would be too horrific to contemplate, and the borough's ownership of the land it is built on ensures that can never happen.

If ever there was any chance that the council could be persuaded to sell the freehold of the ground to the club, I suspect that was torpedoed by Mr Finbow.

WHENEVER there's an election in the offing we try to weed out blatantly political letters from our columns.

But that doesn't prevent councillors or candidates trying to get letters in that are undisguised propaganda that the Iraqi Information Minister would be proud of.

So far this week we've had two letters from well-known political figures in the area.

One is of the how wonderful Tony Blair is variety, saying how lucky we are to have such a glorious leader in Number Ten.

The other reckons Gordon Brown is a genius for his fantastic budget – and how clever Mr Blair was to make such a brilliant man Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I really don't know why these people bother! They must realise their letters aren't going to get published in full – and even if they did what effect do they think they'd have?

Do they think that someone reading the Star on the Chantry estate will have a blinding conversion after reading their pearls of wisdom?

It does seem to be the most ridiculous waste of time and effort. I'd describe it as pointless, but there is a point at the end of this story – on the end of the spike in the Evening Star letter.

ONE letter that did get in the paper this week was that from the new press officer for the county council's Labour group Kevan Lim.

He's apparently taken a dislike to my column of March 27 when I described the Labour group's attempts to celebrate 10 years in office as a "shindig."

Apparently a shindig implies dancing and a riotously good time – while all the Labour group were doing was opening a bottle of champagne a la Michael Schumacher.

I'm truly sorry if I caused any confusion and I'll put the record straight – there was no sign of council leader Jane Hore doing the can-can in the playground of Piper's Vale School.

But that doesn't alter the fact that it was monumentally insensitive for the Labour Group to be cracking open the bubbly and celebrating as council tax bills with an 18.5 per cent increase were dropping on to front doormats across the county.

The image they created was that high council tax bills were something to be celebrated not to be ashamed of – and I'm not sure that many voters share that view!


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