Ipswich looks to the future

IPSWICH is once again looking at future options for the growth of the town - and while some ideas have great merit, others do seem to be wide of the mark.

IPSWICH is once again looking at future options for the growth of the town - and while some ideas have great merit, others do seem to be wide of the mark.

Much of the attention has been focussed on how the borough intends to deal with the growth in traffic over the next few years by developing new road networks.

Many of their proposals have merit - even if they do look highly ambitious and seem unlikely to attract the necessary government money.

The controversial East Bank Link Road seems to have hit the buffers yet again as now the Conservative-led administration has accepted what Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been saying for years - that the road was a no-no.

The East Bank link has always been a non-starter for a number of reasons.

It would have caused great damage to one of the most beautiful parts of Ipswich, brought more traffic to the Duke Street roundabout, and there was never any real prospect that the Highways' Agency would allow another junction to built on to the A14 at the Orwell Bridge.

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But while accepting the inevitable, the decision to abandon the proposal must have grated with some in the administration who had been enthusiastic backers of the idea.

Putting a new bridge over the wet dock lock gates is a much more practical solution to the road problem - although that would be very expensive in itself.

And while it would allow traffic to get from the east bank to the west without going around the Waterfront routes, it would not actually make life much easier for getting traffic in or out of the town.

It's rather disappointing that the borough has called for more time and money to be wasted on looking into a northern bypass - which would be outside the town - as that will almost certainly never be built.

Apart from road links the other issue in the local development framework - or local plan as it used to be called - is the future of housing in the town.

The document expects pressure for new housing in the northern fringe of Ipswich to build up in the 2020s. I fear that pressure might come much sooner.

There are thousands of new homes being built in the town at present - but precious few of those new homes are traditional family houses with gardens. A few houses are being built, especially by Persimmon and Fairview in the Waterfront area, but their numbers are dwarfed by those of new flats.

There is a desperate need for new houses, and they need land. You can't fit enough low-rise houses on brownfield plots in the town centre and Waterfront.

To get enough of these houses built, some land currently thought of as greenbelt will have to be used.

The planning inspector vetoed the construction of homes on the British Sugar site at Sproughton, so the northern fringe is bound to come into play sooner rather than later.

That is not what the current administration wants to hear. Conservative councillors have been campaigning for years against any new homes in the Westerfield Road area.

AS SUFFOLK suffers yet another animal health scare with the re-emergence of bird flu in the county, the accountants at Endeavour House will be holding their breath to see how much it will cost us this time.

It is very ironic that this nasty disease should re-emerge just as the county was going into battle with DEFRA over the cost of dealing with February's outbreak at Bernard Matthew's site in Holton.

There are always likely to be tensions when government and council departments come together to tackle a crisis like bird flu.

But the fact is that when something like this hits an area, there will always have to be a level of co-operation - you can't expect every county to have experts on dealing with every animal illness but then you can't expect DEFRA to have the manpower to visit every farm in the country.

Co-operation is vital, but to be 100 per cent effective there needs to be total confidence about how the bills will be split at the end.

There was clearly a certain amount of disagreement about how this split would be made earlier this year.

Hopefully once the fallout has settled from this latest outbreak, everyone will be happy with how the costs were dealt with, and whatever future animal health problems may hit the county, at least paying for the clean-up will not be an issue.

IT'S good news that the government is going to continue the full fuel rebate for bus companies - and Ipswich MP Chris Mole can take credit for raising the issue with ministers.

But I can't help feeling this is a classic case of civil servants overlooking what may seem to be a small issue when dealing with their spending round.

I imagine that once MPs - like Mr Mole - drew attention to the fact that there was no mention of paying back fuel duty, then there was probably an “oh crikey” moment in the corridors of Whitehall.

And while it is good that Ipswich Buses have passed on the savings to some of their customers, it is a bit disappointing to see that there is no reduction for non-regular passengers.

It is these people that should really be targeted by the company, if there is to be a real effort at attracting us motorists out of our cars.

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