Floating on a sea of yellow and blue

SO did you notice anything different in Ipswich today?Were the roads painted blue and yellow on your way into work? Does the dawn of a new Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration at Civic Centre herald a real sea-change for the town?It really is difficult to know how the shift in power at Civic Centre will change things across the town - and the area as a whole.

SO did you notice anything different in Ipswich today?

Were the roads painted blue and yellow on your way into work? Does the dawn of a new Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration at Civic Centre herald a real sea-change for the town?

It really is difficult to know how the shift in power at Civic Centre will change things across the town - and the area as a whole.

Because more than any other district or borough council in the county, decisions at Ipswich's Civic Centre have a much wider impact than just in the borough boundaries.


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It's not just people in Ipswich who go to the Regent Theatre, Crown Pools, or the Corn Exchange.

It's not just those who pay council tax bills who use Ipswich Buses, which is owned by the council.

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It's not just townsfolk who visit the parks or the museum. The new custodians of Civic Centre need to remember that Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk, and everyone in the county - especially the eastern side - has a stake in it.

I don't expect to see major changes immediately. You aren't going to see the Regent closed straight away or an immediate decision to pour millions into Broomhill Pool.

But it will be interesting to see how a different vision of Ipswich emerges over the next 18 months - the amount of time the new coalition has to establish itself before the next borough elections.

ONE thing the new administration at Civic Centre has promised to look at straight away is how the borough's housing department dealt with Patricia Bagley's tenancy after the death of her mother.

I can understand the argument that an elderly, disabled person living on their own would be better off in a one-bedroomed flat than in a three-bedroomed house, but how you handle the question is almost more important than the matter in hand.

If you want to free up the house for a young family, which is quite understandable, that should be done on the basis that you are offering the existing tenant something they would prefer.

Put bluntly you should use the carrot rather than the stick!

Sending a letter four days after the death of their mother telling them that they'll have to move out in 28 days is monumentally crass - even if you do eventually relent and offer six months to think things over.

I don't really believe this was done with evil intent, but frankly if the council had made the first approach to Miss Bagley at the end of this month rather than within days of her mother's death, officials may have achieved what they wanted.

But now she has - quite rightly - dug in and it's quite clear she's going to win this battle.

What's been interesting is that even senior officers and councillors at Civic Centre accept that they handled this case very badly.

“It's elevated cack-handedness to an art form,” one councillor told me this week.

SO the county council at Endeavour House is to get a new neighbour when Ipswich council moves its offices to Russell Road in early 2006.

There's no name for the new offices yet - but I've already had one suggestion from a waggish council officer.

“It'll end up as Endeavour House annex - all part of the same organisation after the next local government shake-up,” he said.

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