Good news on the housing front

WORLDWIDE recession is good for hardly anyone - but if there is a sector that can benefit from the current economic problems it is those people who are seeking to provide affordable homes.

WORLDWIDE recession is good for hardly anyone - but if there is a sector that can benefit from the current economic problems it is those people who are seeking to provide affordable homes.

The news that the number of homes for rent at an affordable price in Ipswich is on the increase is a welcome development after years of under-investment in social housing.

The construction of affordable homes has a double benefit - it increases the number of homes available for those who do not have enough money to buy their own home.

And it provides valuable work for a construction industry that really is at the sharp end of the recession.

The problems with the housing market has made traditional homebuilding firms very wary about starting new projects so the fact that government-funded social housing projects are going ahead helps create work for thousands of construction workers.

Selling council houses to their tenants may have been a popular policy, but with local authorities unable to use the money they raised to build new homes, the number of social homes in Britain has dropped significantly.

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The recession may be bad news for most people, but if it allows some hard-pressed families to end up with a roof over their head in a modern purpose-built home, then there will at least be some good to come out of it.

WITH the imminent closure of Woolworths branches across the country and the now-apparently inevitable demise of the iconic High Street name, there is a great deal of sorrow being felt.

Nowhere is that sorrow more keenly felt than in the home of Connor Chaplain, who has been so moved about the store's demise that he has written to The Queen begging her to save the store.

Sadly, it does not seem that even Royal Edict can save the stores now as their shelves are stripped by bargain-hunters hoping to take home the latest DVD or children's coat with a substantial discount.

The stores now look very forlorn - although there are clearly some bargains still to be found, especially for those who are seeking stocking-fillers for Christmas.

What is now likely to be of great concern in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Stowmarket is the question of what will happen to the stores after Woolies does shut its doors for the last time.

If new tenants cannot be found quickly, there will be huge gaps on our major high streets as we head into 2009.

NORA Batty was an icon of British situation comedy - the character played by Kathy Staff has been a mainstay of the show for more than 30 years and the death of the actress marks the real end of an era.

The character she played so vividly epitomised the gritty northern mother-in-law much derided by comedians, but she managed to inject her alter ego with great humanity and affection.

The show has suffered many blows over the years with the deaths of its ageing stars but still remains a fixture on the Sunday schedules - whether it can survive this latest loss remains to be seen.