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Creating a Miss Marple countryside

PUBLISHED: 01:01 27 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:03 03 March 2010

ONE organisation I have little time for is the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

It seems interested only in preserving an idealised image of rural England with chocolate box cottages and friendly yokels prepared to chew straw while they tell you the way to the local pub.

ONE organisation I have little time for is the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

It seems interested only in preserving an idealised image of rural England with chocolate box cottages and friendly yokels prepared to chew straw while they tell you the way to the local pub.

It wants to create a Miss Marple-style rural idyll – without the murders of course. In short it wants to create a countryside fit for wealthy second home-owners to crow about!

So their latest missive about the evils of supermarkets came as no surprise.

Apparently Tesco, Sainsburys etc are the death of local towns. What rubbish!

Supermarkets are vital to local towns – otherwise they will die and become suburbs of the nearest large town.

Look at Hadleigh. There's been a furious row about a new supermarket and the danger it poses to local businesses.

But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of local people who have access to a car (and that's most of them) do their grocery shopping in Ipswich or Colchester.

It might be nice for second home-owners to potter about the in the High Street popping from the butcher to the baker to the organic cheese-maker when they're in the area during the high summer.

But on a wet Friday evening in October (when the High Street shops are shut anyway) it's a lot better to pile into Tesco or Asda.

Frankly by running such ludicrous campaigns, the CPRE shows it holds in contempt the people who really live in the countryside.

From its comfortable offices in the heart of London (no doubt occupied by people who pile out in the 4x4s to the countryside at the weekend) it lectures those who do live in rural towns and villages about how we should live.

What's really worrying is that there are clearly people in government who think it has a valid point of view.

It would be a lot better if ministers listened to the people who really know about the countryside – the people who live there.

I WAS delighted to hear that former mayor Albert Grant had been cleared of the ludicrous allegation that he had racially discriminated against an employee of a race relations council in Cambridge.

Anyone who has ever met Albert knows that he doesn't have a racist bone in his body – and his work for racial equality in Ipswich over the decades has been fantastic.

Race relations might not be perfect in the town – they aren't anywhere – but they're one heck of a lot better than they are in many towns and cities across the country.

Compare Ipswich's race record with places like Portsmouth, Stoke on Trent, Oldham and Burnley – the capital of the BNP – and you'll see what I mean.

Much of the credit for this must go to the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality – of which Albert was a founder and is now its chairman.

He was awarded the OBE for his services to race relations in 2000, and no one deserved it more.

Frankly for anyone to accuse Albert of race discrimination was ludicrous – it's on a par with accusing the Archbishop of Canterbury of being a Satanist!

IPSWICH rail tunnel is going to be closed for two months next year, causing disruption to thousands of travellers.

But this time there's no promise of better services to come – in fact it's all part of a reduction in rail services for passengers.

This is because the Strategic Rail Authority(SRA) in its infinite wisdom has decided to push all the freight traffic from Felixstowe on to the overcrowded main line to London – even if it will ultimately be heading to the midlands or north of England.

Meanwhile plans to upgrade the under-used cross-country route from Haughley to the midlands have been shelved – making it less attractive to freight companies.

What superb logic from the SRA!

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