End of road for Dot

MULTI-million pound proposals to regenerate Felixstowe seafront are being steamrollered through in secret with no regard to residents, it was claimed today.

MULTI-million pound proposals to regenerate Felixstowe seafront are being steamrollered through in secret with no regard to residents, it was claimed today.

Councillor Dot Paddick made the claim as she quit the task group behind the project – saying she would not be part of the "giveaway of the century".

Mrs Paddick felt Suffolk Coastal council was planning to go against its policy set for the development simply to do a deal with Bloor Homes and so Conservatives could fulfil an election promise made in 1999 before next May's polls.

She has now resigned from the south seafront land task group as a protest over the way in which the scheme – which will provide more than 170 homes, new gardens, car parks, an ampitheatre and play areas – is being handled.

"I can tolerate this task group hiding behind confidentiality clauses no longer," said Mrs Paddick, Liberal Democrat member for Felixstowe West.

"Every meeting the public is ejected – they are not even allowed to know the new designs for the project. It is ridiculous, it is public land.

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"I would also have liked residents to have been given choices for what goes on their 17 and a half acres of seafront land.

"But the Conservatives, with their majority, are dictating what they want and not what is in the interests of the district ratepayers. In fact, up to now very few residents out of 53,000 have been consulted at all.

"This scheme is being steamrollered through council for reasons best-known to the Conservatives, and the residents will recognise it for what it is.

"There is no point me being on this task group any longer and I can find far better uses for my time."

She had heard several councillors saying "getting anything on that land is better than nothing" and felt it was "the giveaway of the century", with the town receiving very little for allowing six acres to be given away for housing.

She was appalled that the council was prepared to allow homes to be built on a flood plain, and the housing was not a minor element of the scheme as was required by policy.

The Martello Tower would not become a museum or restaurant, as had been said previously, and the Herman de Stern was being demolished, not used.

But leaders of the project have denied that it is being steamrollered through and say the confidentiality which has surrounded it for the past 16 years has been necessary to protect the interests of potential developers and other landowners.

Task group chairman David Smith said consultation had been held with residents over a conceptual plan for the land between Orford Road and the Manor Club and everyone could have their say when a planning application was received.

"Everyone will have a full and proper opportunity to comment on the planning application and we anticipate receiving views from many interested organisations as well as residents," he told town council.

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