Election battle could split town

A PLOT to overthrow Kesgrave's leadership is under way today after a Grange Farm residents' rebellion.

A PLOT to overthrow Kesgrave's leadership is under way today after a Grange Farm residents' rebellion.

The attempted coup could see the town's May elections transformed into a dramatic power struggle that could effectively split Kesgrave in two.

Eight Grange Farm residents are currently plotting a takeover of the 15-member council, although a majority of the rebels' identities remain a mystery.

The drastic action follows months of feuding between the town council and residents on the development.

At the centre of the rumpus is a controversial £100,000 teen shelter and all-weather facility, which is to be built on Cedarwood Green.

If successful, the eight coup members would effectively seize overall control of the 15-man council, and could order a review of the shelter project. However to do so members would first need to assume senior positions within key committees.

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Last summer those living near the proposed development successfully fought for a town poll, granted thanks to rarely-used, centuries-old legislation.

However only 260 of the 8,000-strong electorate voted and, while a narrow majority - 140 - asked for more consultation, the council exercised its right to ignore the non-binding result.

At the time the decision led to angry claims Kesgrave had been turned into a “banana republic”.

David Walker, currently the only publicly-named member of the eight, said: “What this process taught us was that the town council didn't represent the views of those it was supposed to represent.

“All that we seek to do is stand for election as representatives of today's Kesgrave, not that of the 1980s.

“We seek to stand for common sense and the voice of reason. We are not affiliated to a political party and stand as concerned members of the community.”

Mr Walker, a Kesgrave resident since November 2005, said there were “two or three major players” who used the council as a “vehicle to drive through their own agenda”.

He said the names of the eight would not be revealed until closer to the election, which takes place on May 3.

At the last election, there was no public ballot because only 11 people were willing to stand, meaning four councillors had to be co-opted.

Veronica Read, Kesgrave Town Council clerk, welcomed the potential candidates. She said: “There are a lot of new people in the parish and it's right they should put themselves forward in running the community.”

However she warned that scrapping the teen shelter could have serious financial repercussions as by election time contracts would have already been signed.

What do you make of the argument over Cedarwood Green? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.