Fire station debate heats up

A DISPUTE over where to build a new fire station in Ipswich has today led to a political spat involving accusations of mischief making.

A DISPUTE over where to build a new fire station in Ipswich has today led to a political spat involving accusations of mischief making.

Strained relations between Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council came under more pressure after fire chiefs were told to forget about building a new station in Yarmouth Road.

The borough council's refusal to back the plans prompted a senior county councillor to accuse the borough of being “mischievous” in its opposition to the new station.

Borough bosses, who are trying to win unitary status which would see them win powers back from the county council, were furious that the county was determined to press ahead with plans to build a new station at Yarmouth Road - on land the borough council owns.

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That proposal has now been rejected by the county's own planning committee after objections from the borough's planners.

They said it was in the wrong place and was totally unsuitable for the town.

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“If they want that land then they'll have to try to compulsorily purchase it from us,” one senior council figure said.

“I cannot believe they will go ahead with that - it is a ludicrous place to build a new fire station.”

The borough believed the Yarmouth Road option was a non-starter because it is on a flood plain between two rivers and the access is on to the most congested road junction in the town - meaning that appliances would face delays responding to call-outs.

“We have spoken to the county and offered them many other sites for a fire station if they want to redevelop Princes Street,” the borough source said.

Inga Lockington sits on both the county and borough council. She said: “Yarmouth Road has all kinds of problems as people who live in Ipswich know. The roads are congested and there is the threat of flooding.

“Councillors from Ipswich have been saying this site is wrong but it seems no one in the administration at the county will listen to us.”

However the county's fire and public protection spokeswoman Joanna Spicer said the borough was playing a dangerous game and could be confusing its roles as landowner and planning authority.

She said: “I don't know what is behind these comments but it all seems to be a bit mischievous.

“If the borough council is trying to negotiate on the price of the land through the media that is wrong and we won't get involved in that.”

She said the flooding issues could be resolved and that research into the access to the site suggested it would be better than the Princes Street station.


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