Guy’s still got lots left to smile about!
IN ALL the talk of cuts in Suffolk over the last few weeks, there have been a number of announcements from the government which have shone out like beacons.
And many of these have affected the county’s transport infrastructure – which has all to often been ignored by Whitehall in the past.
That gives county councillor with responsibility for transport Guy McGregor something to smile about – even though he is at the centre of the storm over school crossing patrols and cuts to rural transport.
The government has made money available, both directly and via the county council, to allow the Ipswich Fit for the 21st Century project to go ahead.
It has allowed Network Rail to spend �35 million on the new Ipswich chord linking the East Suffolk line and the main line heading north and west near Hadleigh Road.
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And it has allowed �4 million to be spent on re-instating a loop at Beccles which will allow an hourly rail service between Ipswich and Lowestoft – very nice on warm days in the summer!
Further afield the government has also allowed the A11 dualling to be completed.
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The affable Mr McGregor is rightly upbeat about all these capital projects getting the green light from Whitehall – and he is right to praise the efforts of the county’s new MPs who have lobbied furiously on behalf of Suffolk.
Of all the county’s cabinet members Mr McGregor is probably more closely associated with his portfolio than anyone else.
He’s been coverning environment and transport since the Tories won back power at Endeavour House in 2005.
And for those of us who remember that long back, he was also chairman of the old highways committee at County Hall before the Tories lost power in 1993.
That means he’s been at the front line of transport planning in the county for more than 20 years, and when he talks about issues with the roads or the railways he has the necessary experience.
So at the moment it is not really surprising that he has a smile on his face for much of the time.
After all he has managed to preserve the budget to maintain and improve Suffolk’s roads while most other services are facing cuts.
He is even trying to find a way out of the school crossing patrol controversy by finding sponsors to help fund the service – he is hoping other crossings will get commercial backing like that outside Sidegate primary school in Ipswich.
And he hasn’t given up hope of saving many of the rural bus services that are under threat – including many in his own division of Hoxne and Eye on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.
It might not be possible to win every argument with his colleagues and the bureaucrats at Endeavour House – but no one is more able to fight his department’s corner than Guy McGregor.